back to article Linky revisited: How the evil French smart meter escaped Hell to taunt me

"ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY?" The answer to that depends on a number of circumstances. For example, if Dirty Harry is doing the asking, you'd be advised to shake your head and raise your hands. If Harry's asking an embarrassed Snow White, well, that's another matter entirely. Me, I suppose I believe in luck. That is, I share a …

  1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Coat

    Le Diable

    > No, as far as they are concerned, the electricity companies are actively SELLING customer energy usage records to the DEVIL HIMSELF.

    Presumably, if the meter were to fail, you would be getting a visit from the Prince of Darkness anyway?

    [coat, gone].

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Le Diable

      [coat, gone].

      Surely that should read - I'll get my goat?

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Le Diable

        I'll get my goat?

        Please specify type of goat.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Le Diable

          Horny?

        2. Ordinary Donkey

          Re: Le Diable

          Roasted, with onion gravy.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Le Diable

            Surely curry goat?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Le Diable

              Goats hate to be curried. Just brush 'em.

              And stop calling me surely.

        3. fobobob

          Re: Le Diable

          conical.

        4. Glen 1 Silver badge

          obligitory

          Spherical, and within a vacuum .

          1. Shooter
            Boffin

            Re: obligitory

            Found the physicist!

            1. gerdesj Silver badge

              Re: obligitory

              "Found the physicist!"

              ... who can't tell a goat from a cow.

              1. DavidRa

                Re: obligitory

                The topologist will point out that they are in fact identical.

                1. kev4d

                  Re: obligitory

                  A topologist would point out that while goats and cows are indeed identical, they are in fact toroidal, not spherical.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Le Diable

      "you would be getting a visit from the Prince of Darkness anyway?"

      Nah. The Prince of Darkness haunts Naples, not somewhere in France.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Le Diable

        He prefers the pizza there.

      2. Jan 0

        Re: Le Diable

        @jake If it was the Prince of Darkness, surely the box would say Lucas, not Honywell. The Prince of Darkness used to haunt the unlit winter roads of Britain.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Le Diable

          > The Prince of Darkness used to haunt the unlit winter roads of Britain.

          Ah yes, the famous Lucas 3-position headlamp switch: off, dim and dimmer.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Le Diable

            off, dim and dimmer

            You just described an ex colleague of mine.

            1. Saruman the White

              Re: Le Diable

              As well as most (if not all) of the House of Commons.

          2. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Le Diable

            I thought the Lucas switches did Off, "Might as well be off" and "not very bright either".

            1. imanidiot Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Le Diable

              Btw, recently discovered my in brothers Landy SIIA that that Lucas switch has a 4th undocumented position: "Woops, now you broke it, you prat" . Funnily enough it required less force to turn the switch there than it did the other 3 positions..

              => My brothers reaction =>

            2. Montreal Sean

              Re: Le Diable

              My father always told me that Lucas was tri-state electrics.

              On, off, and flicker.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: Le Diable

                On, off, and flicker.

                Much like the electrics fitted to Ducatti motorbikes - they work fine in Italy in the nice bright, warm sunshine. Here in the not-bright, not-warm and very definately not-dry rain, not so well. Even with liberal application of damp-start and WD-40.

          3. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Le Diable

            My first motorbike bought in the 1st year of university back in the '80s had a headlight like that. So with a guy who also had a bike I went halves on a pair of QH driving lights. One bent and drilled iron bar made a bracket over the original light. It was wired so it was hi-beam while the old one was low (on former high). We did careful measurements and aimed them at the regulation heights.

            Afterwards I need an MoT (NZ equivalent of) and took the bike in the middle of day to the ministry testing station. I was the only customer and multiple mechanics swarmed my bike, disappointed they couldn't find anything wrong. Quizzed on the light, they confirmed. Proceed sir.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Le Diable

          Jan 0, it wasn't me who suggested TPoD would visit, it was the commentard known as 2+2=5 ... I was actually refuting the very concept.

          Next, I suggest you eyeball the obituary of one Joseph Lucas ...

          This message brought to you by the If You Have To Explain It, It Looses Something Department.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Le Diable

        Ok, so who here has a network printer named Darkness ?

        1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

          Re: Le Diable

          Several, but only the ones that do not let me disable WSD, the Web interface, IPP and flipping telnet :/

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Le Diable

          Wouldn't the Prints of Darkness be rather expensive? At least on an inkjet...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Le Diable

            'twas certainly the bane of the FAX era.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Le Diable

        Nah. The Prince of Darkness haunts Naples, not somewhere in France

        Maybe he's subbed the job off to the Under-manager of insufficient Light..

        (h/t to Scott Adams from the days before he became a Trump apologist - although I'm not *entirely* convinced that he's not just winding everybody up..)

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Le Diable

      No, as far as they are concerned, the electricity companies are actively SELLING customer energy usage records to the DEVIL HIMSELF.

      The meters do change the way power consumption is calculated, so if you were close to the upper limit of your power rating, chances are that the new meter will cut pretty often, forcing you to upgrade your contract. That is quite evil if you ask me !

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

        Re: Le Diable

        Eh? These meters don't "cut" unless you don't pay your bill, or, if you previously haven't paid your bill long enough, you haven't fed it enough electronic money in advance.

        The only other thing could be if you frequently pull over the rated main fuse capacity. But that's 60A minimum, up to 100A, on a single phase, and the alternative is a burning meter, wiring and house, so probably better to get that checked out!

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

          Re: Le Diable

          They have a built-in circuit breaker set (remotely) to the value you pay for ; this breaker is quite a bit more sensitive to peak consumption than electromechanical ones, and they do trip, IRL, way before the main breaker downstream does.

          As it's distantly adjustable, all it takes to restore power stability is a quick call to your provider -and of course a quick increase in your monthly bill.

    4. Loatesy

      Re: Le Diable

      Well, Lucifer IS 'The Torchbearer' AKA 'The bringer of Light'.

      . . . Go figure.

    5. Red Ted
      Joke

      Re: "The Prince of Darkness"

      What Joseph Lucas himself?

  2. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Same manufacturer for the smart meters? Some saleman has got a hefty Christmas bonus this year. Downside is that when a security fault is found, every French household will be compromised. Well, those with sparky juice at any rate.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Paris Hilton

      That's OK. There are never security holes in internet-o-things stuff. It's all robustly tested before deployment.

      And anyway, if by the remotests, tiniest chance something should go wrong, it's also all well-supported and maintained by its suppliers. Big companies such as Google never abandon products 18 months into their life.

      So all in all - IoT is great and we should all buy lots of it!

      1. baud Bronze badge

        At least if everyone's on the same model of 'smart' meter, it's likely that model will continue to get supported.

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          I don't know why you think that

          At least if everyone's on the same model of 'smart' meter, it's likely that model will continue to get supported.

          If Silicon Valley were involved, you'd have two months to "upgrade" your meter. And after much protest, that would be extended to four months and the cost of the upgrade would be cut by 15% so you could claim a victory.

          What, Big Tech predatory? How could you possibly think such a thing?

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

            Re: I don't know why you think that

            Is this where I am legally bound to point out that you don't own your electric meter anyway, the supplier does?

            If EDF has to change 17 million electric meters, that is their problem, not yours.

            This has already been demonstrated in the UK market when "we" installed hundreds of thousands of smart meters, and then... took them all out again and put in old refurbished spinning dial ones!

            No cost to the customer, except possibly a little extra wear on the locks of those who, weirdly, were never home, never replied, and turned out to be using huge amounts of electric to warm the attic with lights...

          2. storner

            Re: I don't know why you think that

            Surely it has to be a *french* company supplying the meters, so the engineers would have some interest in keeping them working ...

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          At least if everyone's on the same model of 'smart' meter, it's likely that model will continue to get supported.

          Until the company finds no profit in "support" and decides to dump the products for something with a large profit margin.

    2. jake Silver badge

      "Downside is that when a security fault is found, every French household will be compromised."

      Compromised to what end? So TheBadGuys[tm] can taunt the occupant about their inefficient 1970s appliances. Does it really matter? ... and besides, why would TheBadGuys[tm] bother? There's no money in the taunting game.

      1. Natalie Gritpants Jr

        Potentially they could turn your electricity off. That could take out your alarm and will almost certainly disable your fancy remote front door camera.

        1. PerlyKing Silver badge

          Re: Cutting the power

          I don't know about French burglar alarms, but my fairly old British (Chinese, whatever...) one has a battery backup. It's almost as if somebody foresaw the possibility of burglars cutting the power even before everything was connected to the internet.

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            I don't know about other French alarms, but mine also has a battery backup.

            And, given that the phone and internet connection are on a UPS, any burglar thinking of cutting the power would be well advised to wait half an hour at least before attempting entry, which means that the police will have largely enough to mosey on down to my place and cull the miscreant red-handed.

            Because in the event of a power failure I get a notification, and will act accordingly.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              You might act. But since the police have been cut to almost nothing the most action you're likely to get is an appointment for a victim support officer to pop round in a couple of weeks and sympathise.

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Just tell them they don't need to bother as the culprit is already dead, see how quick they show up.

                1. wjake
                  Black Helicopters

                  'Murican?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              the police will have largely enough to mosey on down to my place

              I think you're horribly naive or terribly uninformed. Police do NOT inspect burglaries, do NOT take statements of burgleries, definitely do NOT investigate for finger and footprints left all over the place. Likewise, they refuse to accept evidence such as full-colour, 4K, 3D mug-shots of burglars. It's quite possible they also refuse to pick up any burglars found intoxicated on your couch :(

            3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              I don't know about other French alarms, but mine also has a battery backup.

              My old alarm has a backup - it's 18 months old, 4 legged and is starting to get territorial. He's called Theo.

              Old alarm tends to sleep a lot now - he's getting on for 16 and, even as a fairly vigourous terrier-cross (or cross terrier) it's all getting a bit much.

              The cats are content to leave such things to the menial species like humans and dogs.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Or, potentially more harmfully, rapidly turn it on and off again. That's going to really bugger with anything that doesn't have a well smoothed power supply.

        3. 's water music Silver badge

          Potentially they could turn your electricity off. That could take out your alarm and will almost certainly disable your fancy remote front door camera.

          Comme ci, comma ca. Power off= annoying, remote front door cam disabled=net security gain?

        4. 080

          But look on the bright side, it would also disable your fibre connected phone so that you don't get a call every 55 min trying to give you bloody insulation for €1

          1. Benson's Cycle

            On the other hand Microsoft wouldn't be able to phone me to let me know about my broadband problem and the police would come round to arrest me for nonpayment of tax.

            1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

              "And while you're here to arrest me for the 'mmicro sooft tax evasion' officer, could you take away this burglar?"

          2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

            "...it would also disable your fibre connected phone..."

            No. Those have a battery backup. By law.

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        "Compromised to what end? So TheBadGuys[tm] can taunt the occupant about their inefficient 1970s appliances. Does it really matter? ... and besides, why would TheBadGuys[tm] bother? There's no money in the taunting game."

        One of the main reasons they want to install these things, although for some reason not one they advertise widely to the public, is the ability to remotely disconnect your electricity supply. Theoretically to enable load shedding in the case of emergencies or similar, but with the obvious benefit of not even having to send the bailiffs round when you fancy cutting someone off. The downside, other than literally everything else about them, is that a vulnerability would mean TheBadGuys[tm] can also remotely disconnect people from their electricity supply. And if every single house has an identical one from the same manufacturer, that means TheBadGuys[tm] can shut down the entire country. Plenty of fuss is made about the possibility of terrorists, The Russians, or whoever attacking things like power stations to cause problems, but apparently making every home and business entirely dependent on the security of the Internet of Shit is considered a great idea by exactly the same people.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          My friend lives in a block of flats - and his meter cupboard is in the outside corridor, by his front door.

          One evening (I suspect he was playing his music a bit too loud) it suddenly all went dark. As one of his neighbours had helpfully flipped his power off.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Now is the time to admit that university I lived in a 3 floor hall of residence. There was a utilities enclosure that spanned the three floors. Each enclosure had a door protected by one of those toilet type locks accessible with a screwdriver. (Innocent days). And there was a continuous channel from top to bottom.

            On the middle floor lived a total prat who used to play his hifi ridiculously loud late at night.

            So some of the godly had the bright idea of rigging up a length of fishing line to the breaker for his room, going up to the top floor. At peak irritation, a pull on the line (running under the top door) pulled the switch up (whereupon of course the loop of line came off.)

            He would rush out to the box hoping to catch the miscreant, and find the door shut and locked and no evidence of tampering, then rush downstairs hoping to see someone escaping across the court. To no avail.

            It took a little while for the message to be received. He never cottoned on.

            1. JimboSmith Silver badge

              At my uni there was a girl who would put on music when her boyfriend from home arrived on a Saturday morning. It was obvious why she did that and it didn't really bother anyone. Except one morning when she turned it up quite a bit louder than normal. The girl who lived below was unhappy about this and notified the porter. He came up and knocked on the door whereupon the music became louder still. He knocked again identified himself and said if the music wasn't turned down he would enter the room under the terms of her lease and do it for her. At this point it was turned right down.

        2. Alistair Dabbs

          the ability to remotely disconnect

          Twice in the UK I tried to have a water meter installed but to no avail. On both occasions a contractor turned up and asked me whereabouts the main water pipe entered the house. I would say "I don't know", he would say "Me neither" and he'd leave straight away. I suppose I should have stopped paying my water bill just to see what would happen when they tried to cut me off without knowing where the pipes are.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

            They may well know where the stop valve in the road is. And so do you if you take care to look into these things although that might put you one up on them.

            When we had a failed electric supply they discovered that our line wasn't taken off at the point where their GIS said it was but at the other side of the road.

            Then there was the roadworks for the gas supply. I'm not sure why they were doing it but they dug up what they thought was the gas main and found it was a redundant, flooded pipe. Then they discovered the mains came from the next road under some woodland and an adjacent property. That wasn't on the plans either. In fact it caused a panic because they thought somebody's conservatory had been built over it.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

              In fact it caused a panic because they thought somebody's conservatory had been built over it.

              Was the conservatory equipped with an oversize gas heater and full of tropical plants?

            2. hplasm Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

              "They may well know where the stop valve in the road is. And so do you if you take care to look into these things although that might put you one up on them."

              Ours is at the bottom of the next door neighbour's drive.

              And vice versa.

              Are you a civil servant? Or just wildly optimistic?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Ours is at the bottom of the next door neighbour's drive. And vice versa.

                More or less the same here. So once I got quite an excitingly large water bill when the meter reader wasn't paying attention to the serial numbers, so I got bill based on my last reading, and next-door's new one. It was for about £1500, which corresponded roughly (as I recall calculating) to a use of the same number of cubic meters of water.

                To be fair, they were happy to fix it and send a new bill. But clearly there were no sanity checks on bill generation ... and I'm glad it wasn't on a direct debit!

              2. My-Handle

                Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

                Our house has no stop valve.

                Or, to be more precise, the stop valve controls the water to each of the three houses along my section of the road. If I want to repair the leak in my toilet cistern, I have to kill the neighbours' water supply or get soaked.

                1. Blofeld's Cat
                  Facepalm

                  Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

                  I had a similar arrangement where I used to live, with the exception that the stop tap was inside a yard at the end of the road.

                  The one with the "Guard Dogs on Patrol. 24 Hours" sign on the gates.

                2. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

                  Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

                  Might I suggest adding an inline water valve with every repair in future, so you can isolate that thing the next time, with a screwdriver.

            3. PerlyKing Silver badge

              Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

              Doc Syntax sayeth:

              They may well know where the stop valve in the road is

              Or they may not. We had a burst pipe on the other side of our stop tap a few years ago and they had to turn off the supply to the whole street! And then again when they came to fit a meter....

              1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

                Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

                I hope you had them fit a stop tap alongside the meter!

          2. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

            I was doing a showroom survey trying to sort out where incoming utilities and meters were before any shopfitting took place. The phone rang and it's the water company wanting payment on a bill. Bloke quite enthusiastically says "e're considering disconnection for the non payment. I said please do and could they hurry up please. The bloke said that's not the normal response he got and why was I so keen? I explained that the lease had expired and the last tenants had left, my employers had bought the lease. Plus if there wasn't any water I could go home as the toilet wouldn't flush etc. so could they get a move on please. Then I realised that the broadband & phone hadn't been cut off yet as the call was to the landline.

          3. Alister Silver badge

            Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

            I live in what is the third in a row of seven terraced houses - so the centre of the row.

            In the bad winter a few years ago, we made the discovery that whilst the rest of the terrace gets their water fed from the rear of the properties, mine, inexplicably, is fed from the front, and so whilst all the others had no water as the pipes froze up, mine was fine, thank you... :)

          4. 1752

            Re: the ability to remotely disconnect

            https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/water/water-supply/problems-with-paying-your-water-bill/if-you-don-t-pay-your-water-bill/

            "If you are a domestic (non-business customer), water companies can't, by law, disconnect or restrict your water supply if you owe them money. "

            But they will take out a County Court Judgment for the debt and pass it to a debt collector.

        3. Terje

          If you live in a civilised country the smart meters don't have any ability to cut power as they do nothing but measure the current and voltage going through them with no relays in the way (this cut cost as well as relays for such a use would add significantly to the bom.)

          1. Timo

            About cutting power

            If you allow some leeway in "civilized country", over here on the left side of the pond ComEd does very much have the ability to cut power remotely. I suppose it is both a good and a bad thing.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: About cutting power

              Here in the Netherlands that was deemed illegal and the ability removed in the upgraded models.

            2. Terje

              Re: About cutting power

              I think it's likely dependent on legislation and culture. If there's a large risk the utility may not get paid it will lean more towards being able to cut power if the bill is unpaid, or meters that you add prepaid credit to which is common in many African countries.

      3. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge
        Mushroom

        turning the lights out over an entire country would take a pretty big neutron bomb.

        1. Graham Cobb

          Or a single packet sent to the right multicast address from behind the right firewall?

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Pirate

          turning the lights out over an entire country would take

          a few well-placed cuts in the main EHV grid.

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: turning the lights out over an entire country would take

            A well placed spittle-flecked tweet.

        3. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

          that went down like a lead balloon.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Sign of the times.

            There is a lot of that going around. People are losing their sense of humo(u)r. I've seen comedians booed off stage for shit that was pretty tame when Carlin was doing standup. The likes of Bill Hicks would probably turn today's sheltered little dearies catatonic ... if they dared to actually try to understand his message, that is. Jackie Mason would probably be able to kill 'em with a glance at 50 paces ...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear .....

        "Court documents show investigators believe James Bates cleaned up the murder scene because of the amount of water he used in a two-hour window. "

        The death was not suspicious, the man was innocent, the usage pattern normal and the amount of water used and the time at which it was used completely wrong ... according to everyone but law enforcement.

        "We will be able to prove that there is a 12-hour difference in the water usage that they put out in the affidavit of probable cause and the uses of my client using the water to fill up the hot tub the day before,"

      5. 080

        "Compromised to what end? So TheBadGuys[tm] can taunt the occupant about their inefficient 1970s appliances. Does it really matter? ... and besides, why would TheBadGuys[tm] bother? There's no money in the taunting game. "

        If you could switch consumers off and on in sufficiently large blocks you could very quickly trip out the whole grid, think black start on steroids. No electric, gas, water, sewage, internet, alarms, phones all without a single shot fired.

        And even if it is all running correctly you still have to rely on French logic.

    3. cswilly2

      Six manufacturers of Linky not One

      >>>Same manufacturer for the smart meters?

      Not true. See

      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linky#Fabrication

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Six manufacturers of Linky not One

        Not true. See

        https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linky#Fabrication

        Well you have to hope they didn't use the same key in all the meters like the UK were going to before GCHQ got involved.

    4. hairbear62

      Lime green !!!

      Mine is 'Sable'. And it ain't made by Honeywell.

      Not all the same.

  3. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Well, yes, that's sort of what smart meters are for: they send your meter reading wirelessly back to the electricity company so they can bill you.

    My understanding is that they use Power-line communication (PLC) to transmit data. You are specifically asked to accept data retention for daily usage ...

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Power Line Communication

      I think you're right about PLC with Linkys. It was back in saarf-east London that my smart meter sent half-hourly updates over the air to Hell HQ. I know this because my energy company stopped receiving usage data at some point and they had to send a Vodafone technician to my home to fix it.

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Power Line Communication

        My OVO one calls home through their wires. No SIM and no WiFi.

        1. Plastivore

          Re: Power Line Communication

          Mine was installed by OVO as well, and it's clearly stated that they have a SIM and use a mobile phone data connection. Otherwise it would be fairly complicated as current Gen 1 UK smart meters communicate directly to the energy supplier. Gen 2 smart meters will have more features and will communicate with a centralised entity to ease switching between providers (but you can still keep your smart meter from turning dumb if you switch to a provider that uses the same brand of meters, like I did from OVO to Octopus recently as they both use meters from the Secure brand). This is in turn made more complicated by the fact that there are many different grid owners in the UK. In France, pretty much the whole country is on ERDF's grid (apart from Strasbourg, if I'm not mistaken - kinda how Hull has it own non-BT telephone network), so that makes thing much easier.

          Oh, and the reason why they don't have to make an appointment or wait for an agreement to replace the meter in France is because the company owns the meter (like in the UK if I'm not mistaken), and they are usually in a tiny cabinet on the edge of the property, which can be accessed at any time (and by anyone as it's kept closed by a simple lock that can be opened with a screwdriver - or a flat pebble). They just need to give you a bit of notice, as they're going to switch off your supply for the change.

      2. cracked and broken

        Re: Power Line Communication

        "It was back in saarf-east London that my smart meter sent half-hourly updates over the air to Hell HQ."

        And why exactly do they need half hourly readings for sending me a monthly bill?

        If they want to offer variable tariffs they can read an aggregated figure for each of the tariff bands at the end of the month. A bit like my economy 7 meter provides a monthly figure for both night and day usage. They don't need to know that I was cooking my dinner between 7:00 pm and 7:30 pm on Tuesday.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Not with EDF they don't. They all have a 4g SIM in them.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Are you sure?The Enedis docs I've seen say that it's power-line comms back to the nearest EDF transformer substation, then GPRS/3G/4G from there.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

          Depends.

          I've had to sit and wait on commercial jobs where they've had to do a 2 hour signal test for the system before installing a pre-payment meter in a pub basement, etc.

          In fact, I don't know of any that talk through the wires in the UK, they all use data over GSM. But, that could be a supplier I've not worked with, or a recent change (I've scaled it back as the money is terrible, and the "customers" frequently worse.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No sim in mine (EDF), Powerline back to the substation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It depends on the meter type. Manufacturers have powerline, 2g, 3g, 4g types.

      3. cswilly2

        Nonsense. See

        https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linky#Courants_porteurs_en_ligne

        All the meters use power line communication to connect to the concentrator in the transformer station. From there they use wireless GPRS Edge (kind of a 3G and 3G+ technology).

    3. DougS Silver badge

      I've had one for years that does that

      There isn't two way communication in mine (yeah I looked into the model when they were installing it because I was curious) so no possibility of security holes or anyone (even the utility) using it to cut off the power. Before it was installed I had someone walk up to my house to manually read the meter once a month. Now no one does.

      The gas meter has some little wire coming out of it that I'm not sure where it goes (maybe they fished it through the gas line?) but they don't need manual readings on it either anymore. My water meter allows them to drive by with a truck and collect readings as they go by - I had to have it replaced at one time because it stopped doing that. Since it is inside my house I guess in the old days they had to ring your bell and ask to go down into your basement to read the meter?

      So as far as I'm concerned this was an IMPROVEMENT in security/privacy since I don't have someone walking up to my house (to the back of my house, since that's where the meter is) every month. I guess people who have meters on the back and fenced in yards would have had the guy ring the doorbell, an even bigger disruption.

      The problem isn't smart meters, it is overly smart meters that allow two way communication. I'm glad mine is only partially smart, and the utility is unlikely to consider another replacement for decades as these are all around 10 years old. I doubt they do very many disconnections for non-payment around here so being able to remotely cut off someone's power would have little benefit.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: I've had one for years that does that

        > The gas meter has some little wire coming out of it that I'm not sure where it goes

        Typically the gas meter talks to the leccy meter by battery-powered, short range radio (Zigbee type thing) so it's probably an aerial.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: I've had one for years that does that

          Nah, it is a wire that goes down into the ground the gas pipe coming out of the ground. Not sure if it goes into the pipe or what. It can't be talking to the electric meter because the majority of the gas company's customers in my area of the state have a different electric company. Plus the electric meter doesn't have a radio (I checked the specs when it was being installed and I saw the model number)

          It could be radio, but if so it would have to work like my water meter and require a truck that drives down the street and collect readings. Presumably without any encryption etc. so criminals could do that and determine which houses aren't occupied.

          Most houses use electricity while people are gone (heat/AC is still on just set more efficiently) and you don't turn off your wireless router, your DVR, various "instant on" appliances etc. and you might have something turning a few lights on/off. But you definitely won't use any water while you are gone. Well, unless you have a drippy faucet. Which I guess could be an advantage if you want to avoid being targeted for robbery :)

    4. martinusher Silver badge

      Mine uses 2G wireless. It doesn't have that much data to send.

      The problem's not the wireless bit but rather the meter's are crap. They're just not very reliable. Power usage curves are handy but being able to determine how much power is used by the hour opens the door to billing abuse -- why bother providing adequate service when you can cut demand by nosebleed time of day tariffs (and come up smelling of roses because you're encouraging conservation into the bargain).

      BTW -- Our gas meter got remote billing by an add on to the original meter that just replaced the "bit with the wheels in it". The gas company hasn't seen fit to do anything weird with tariffs, it just cuts down on the meter reading. So it really can be done -- there's really no need for 'smart' anything.

  4. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Whenever one of us takes a shower

    The meter is probably tutting at your quaint British behaviour.

  5. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Pint

    Ribbit

    The initial objection held by my amphibian countrymen...

    I think you've just renamed my Gallic colleagues. Nice one as ever Dabbsy, have one for the weekend! ---->

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Ribbit

      I was told by one of my Flemish colleagues (when working in Brussels) that Belgium broadly divided into two peoples. The cloggies and the froggies.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Ribbit

        In Belgium there has always been a language barrier, even Asterix was made aware of that

        (though they could also claim belgian beer makes you somewhat lose your language usage capacity)

      2. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Ribbit

        - and this is not even counting the German-speakers (yes, German is also an official Belgian language).

  6. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    incongruous vehicle pyromania!

    Isn't that the title track from the debut album by Clive Barker and the Collywobbles?

  7. drand

    Allez, Marcel!

    Allez, Marcel, grab your hi-viz vest and pitchfork, let's head to the town hall for an afternoon of impotent irrational shouting and incongruous vehicle pyromania!

    Why I both love and loathe France and the French. infuriatingly but also admirably bonkers.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Allez, Marcel!

      At times I find them infuriating as well, and I'm French.

    2. Toltec

      Re: Allez, Marcel!

      As the old saying goes, the French are revolting.

    3. Uffish

      Re: "infuriatingly but also admirably bonkers"

      Whereas all the English could come up with is Brexit.

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: "infuriatingly but also admirably bonkers"

        Oh to return to the good old days where us Brits could have a good laugh about the weird practices and politics of our European neighbors

        1. Saruman the White
          Joke

          Re: "infuriatingly but also admirably bonkers"

          Storms in channel, continent cut off

    4. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Allez, Marcel!

      "Allez, Marcel, grab your hi-viz vest and pitchfork, let's head to the town hall for an afternoon of impotent irrational shouting and incongruous vehicle pyromania!"

      One thing's for sure, the French might protest about the most ridiculous things at the drop of a hat, but they know how to not take any shit from their government. A bit more of that type of activism could go a long way in countries like UK and US where capitalist overreach is rampant

  8. calmeilles

    Disguised

    «savvy robbers case a joint before donning the stripy sweatshirt»

    Sling a string of onions around their necks and no one would give a second glance…

  9. A.P. Veening Silver badge

    Guest column

    I think I should invite him to write a guest column here the next time I go on holiday.

    That might be a very nice idea, but who is going to translate that into something legible? I can speak, read, write and understand several languages, but Froggie isn't one of them.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Guest column

      "who is going to translate that into something legible?"

      If his reply was actually the very English "It's all bollocks", as reported by our man on the spot, I rather suspect that your fears will be unfounded.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Guest column

        C'est toute les couilles, ca.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Guest column

        Tout est bolleaux

      3. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Guest column

        He said: "C'est de la connerie." Strictly speaking he used a feminine genital slang metaphor rather than a masculine one but it translates nastily into English.

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: Guest column

          La Connerie

          It does sound like you should find one in every French village, somewhere between la boulangerie and la quincaillerie.

          1. Andy Non Silver badge

            Re: Guest column

            You can, they are usually serving behind the counter of La Poste.

            1. Alistair Dabbs

              Re: Guest column

              >> ...serving behind the counter of La Poste

              Ah non, lui, c'était un connard.

              1. Warm Braw Silver badge

                Re: Guest column

                un connard

                Does that make le Trump un connard à l'orange?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Guest column

            If they're Brazillian does that make them shorn connerie ?

            1. Hero Protagonist

              Re: Guest column

              Shorn Connerie was the best James Bond

        2. Spanners Silver badge
          Go

          Re: Guest column

          The, primly USian, Google Translate returns that as "bullshit".

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Guest column

            "The, primly USian, Google Translate returns that as "bullshit"."

            It also translated 'Oh really' as 'Hur Dur'".

            Although that may have been Goofy Translate... same thing though.

    2. JClouseau

      Re: Guest column

      I'll be happy to oblige, for a reasonable (integer) number of Bitcoins, but quick please before BTC is worth the same as the Venezuelan Bolivar.

      I need that, as the Bitcoin-mining farm I'm running on my rooted Linky is not as effective as planned. Might have something to do with it running a Cortex M3 SoC at 72MHz.

      1. whitepines Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Guest column

        Disclaimer: don't do this!

        If you've got root on the Linky, run a large miner behind it while it sends happy single lightbulb usage figures back to the grid!

        Icon for those who didn't read my first line....

        (though this is more the situation I'd be worried about overall, plus the remote disconnect feature that makes France unusually vulnerable to cyberattack)

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Guest column

          The UK also has remote disconnection in second generation (and probably first as well) smart meters. There are supposedly safeguards in place to prevent too many disconnections in a period of time. This is designed to prevent someone at an energy billing company fat fingering (or maliciously) sending a command to disconnect thousands of meters/supplies. However this relies on the idea that somebody hasn't been able to hack their way into the communications network that these meters use etc.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Guest column

      Alors, c'est un grande domage, n'est-ce-pas?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Guest column

        tsk, of course, that should have been "un grand dommage"...

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: c'est un grande domage

        A big cheese?

  10. Franco Silver badge

    Ordinarily I would mock the tinfoil hat brigade, but seeing as some of my own fellow Scots are keeping their children out of school over fears about the 5G trials in Orkney....

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-49401068

    My energy company seems to have given up on trying to get me to install a smart meter, the weekly emails have stopped and the meter guy didn't say a word when he came round to read them the other week.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Reminds me of an episode of Yes Minister, talking about some chemical thing that had almost the same name as a dangerous one.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Dihydrogen monoxide? Deadly stuff, that.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Boffin

          Indeed - read all about it here: http://dhmo.org/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Paradioxin.

        1. collinsl

          Metadioxin was the Yes Minister chemical - not that it exists in real life of course...

  11. SW
    Pint

    They can pry the pitchfork from my cold dead hands before we allow one in...

    I wouldn't mind but all this garbage spouted about how they make your life easier is kangaroo testicles.

    Here in rural parts of L'hexagone we report our own meter readings via that new fangled thing called l'internet. But we are supposed to have a bi-annual visit from the man with an electronic clipboard to take our readings. However, he always calls when we're out, leaves a card saying will be back a demain at the same time when we're of course out again.

    So, how do we rural residents of France get around this, well we don't let one of those infernal green boxes inside, no - we simply write the reading on the card left and hey presto the "official, has to be done" reading is completed for another six months.

    Ah well, back to the vin de table.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: They can pry the pitchfork from my cold dead hands before we allow one in...

      Meter reader visits twice a year here. For the 2 times I need to remove a couple of things from the understairs cupboard, their convience argument is lost.

      Usual response to "We can fit a smart meter" is "Over my rotting corpse", before dismantling every alleged benefit.

      So glad they can't force them on us here in Blighty. Yet.

      1. SW

        Re: They can pry the pitchfork from my cold dead hands before we allow one in...

        They can't (depending on your circumstances) force them on us here in France. It is not against the law to refuse them access INTO your house to install one. They can only force one on you if your meter is an external one - but there are arguments that you can restrict their access if they have to come ONTO your property (i.e. garden) to do it.

    2. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

      Re: They can pry the pitchfork from my cold dead hands before we allow one in...

      It is actually easier than dealing with all that though. We have a second property down the road thats currently empty, and they put the card in the postbox which I empty every few months. Then they fitted that property with a transponder that can be read from outside, and now the person in the little van just parks up outside for a minute to read it.

      This property has a linky, its powerline as others have said, had a good chat with the installer who turned out to know more than how to screw it in place about all sorts of interesting aspects and poke round with it out of curiosity.

      I'd really like to get a spare one to go to town on properly though...

  12. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "I see your head needs fixing."

    Yes, it's not been flushing properly, I'll show you in.

  13. SVV Silver badge

    Start sending in some more ludicrous complaints

    Tell them that your "Lonky" has to be removed because it does not have an iriitating picture of a cute cartoon animal on it, as is required by law on all branded products in France. Or ask them how to connect your old minitel terminal to it in order to pay the bill.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Start sending in some more ludicrous complaints

      Given the Froggies penchant for using outdated equipment (F(^&*^ing cheques in supermarkets for instance...), I doubt asking about connecting a minitel terminal is going to be all that out of the ordinary

  14. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Fake stone cladding on brick walls is a good indicator of a likely doorstep fraud victim

    FTFY

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doing this in parts of the US too

    I live in an "electrocity", which means the town buys power from the power company, then sells it to us at a 50% markup so they can have their own electrician. (And no, we can't buy direct from the power company.) We're being upgraded to smart meters, with no possibility of refusing. They've already started charging us $2/month/meter (so $4 for power and water), with the meters to START being installed in a few months. Apparently that $4/mo is permanent, as by the time the meter is paid off, it's obsolete and needs replacing. Seems like the town should pay for them, as they could stop paying somebody to go to every house every month and read the meters, but no...

    1. Blane Bramble

      Re: Doing this in parts of the US too

      Having studied the USA for many years, I believe your solution is "moar gunz".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doing this in parts of the US too

        I would only need one.

    2. eldel

      Re: Doing this in parts of the US too

      In my area (nestled up against the Rockies) they fitted 'smart' water meters - which have a SIM card. I pointed out to them that there's no effective coverage right there - but that wasn't deemed important. Cue the exasperated email "asking" if I'd tampered with it. Then the visit. Then another visit. Followed by monthly visits to read the meter. Wuckfits.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Doing this in parts of the US too

      How "smart" are the meters they are installing? I have a "smart" meter too that was installed about 10 years ago, but it is only one way communication. Keeps them from having someone manually read the meter (and has an LCD display of kwh instead of an old school odometer type meter like the old one) but otherwise is the same as the old meter. No two way communication means no security holes to worry about.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doing this in parts of the US too

        "How "smart" are the meters they are installing?"

        Don't know, and don't care. For me, it's less about them being insecure (if they are, the town is liable, so hopefully they did their homework), and more about them replacing my perfectly usable meters with ones that decrease the town's costs - and then charging me every month, forever, for the privilege.

  16. Giovani Tapini Silver badge
    Trollface

    What he doesn't realise is

    That the noise is the real imp trying to get out while you're not looking...

    Troll icon because that's close enough !

  17. The other JJ

    Ready Brek Children?

    If you're old enough to remember Ready Brek children Dabbsy then surely you're old enough to remember Windscale flakes? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk0WzCtF0yY

  18. LDS Silver badge

    Would you prefer the slightly Star Wars Empire style of Italian smart meters?

    https://images.app.goo.gl/LLzzgXYRG1a7V6Vs5

    I wonder if there is black one mastering them all....

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Would you prefer the slightly Star Wars Empire style of Italian smart meters?

      Do they say GONK! and wander off?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Would you prefer the slightly Star Wars Empire style of Italian smart meters?

        Cult of the Gonk Droid

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZSxGes5WT8

  19. Dr_N Silver badge

    EDF Technician?!?

    There's your mistake Mr Dabbs:

    You let an ill qualified EDF monkey have-at your meter instead of a certified EDRF (now Enedis) technician.

    Schoolboy error.

    1. JClouseau

      Re: EDF Technician?!?

      Was most likely neither : EDF is now just one supplier among others (for gas and water as well, go figure, they could at least have changed names), and ENEDIS is not sending their own certified guys, they use third-party companies.

      My meter for instance was installed by a nice and apparently savvy guy from "OK Service", which seems to be an outfit you can call for "small" electricity or plumbing stuff, assembling an IKEA shelf, etc...

      To be fair the installation went well, but when I read the first letter scheduling the installation and saw the name of the partner I thought "could as well be someone from Domino's with a couple hours training".

      Oh how I sometimes miss the days from our Glorious Socialist Public Service, when most of our commodity suppliers (one for each commodity) had "France" in the name...

      What ? What exactly was wrong with the Minitel ?? Cutting edge, mate !

      /goes downstairs to sing a muffled and tearful Marseillaise in front of his certified-not-to-blow-up Linky

  20. cosymart
    Holmes

    UK Smart? Meter

    We had a smart meters fitted to our electricity and gas. The PFY who did the fitting was accompanied by a "supervisor" who spent the whole time sat in his van on the phone. This saga took an entire day. First the PFY got quite excited when his digital meter registered a few millivolts from a small terminated 2 core low voltage wire that passed adjacent to the fuse-board and slapped a "Dangerous Voltage - Do Not Touch" note on it. Secondly he turned off the gas boiler (more on this later). He also decided that because some of the 3 core PVC wiring passed close to a gas pipe the gas pipe had to be wrapped in thick plastic piping for safety. The fitting of the two new smart meters seemed to go quite smoothly until it was noticed that the incoming gas supply had an off switch that was upside down (marked correctly). This gas switch also gained a do not use label. We now have a house with an electrical supply but no gas. 2 hours later a Gas Network fitter arrives to fit a new, correctly orientated gas off switch. PFY then attempts to automatically get the gas boiler to ignite and fails due to having snapped off an igniter lug. A further hour passes and a gas fitter turns up to repair the broken lug and light the gas boiler.

    A cautionary tale not to request a free smart meter.

    1. Nick Kew
      Facepalm

      Re: UK Smart? Meter

      Strewth!

      Who paid for all that? If that's Blighty it'll be all of us, through our bills funding it all.

  21. Blake St. Claire

    a kind of runny-nose green?

    > Worse, they are all the same colour: a kind of runny-nose green.

    Can't that be fixed with a can of spray paint?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Harry's asking an embarrassed Snow White

    this is... a new and... interesting angle. Youporn?

  23. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    I have one, Linky me

    Ours was fitted whilst we were on a 3 month stint in UK (bad move). Unfortunately for us, letter forming us of visit was sent 30 day before install (still in UK). Came back to find everything..,.was...OK. UPS's had coped with outage (they're obligatory in rural France when your neighbour:s trees connect to powerlines in a storm).

    Good for monthly usage monitoring as they report back that frequently. Also 'off' if ErDF cut your supply on a Monday morning for post weekend repairs (hint: power off at 09:03)

    Not bothered about radiation as it is powerline (dodgy Edge mobile broadband here) and my own home wifi is detectable 100ft down the lane. It's also just o/s my front door but think the 2.5ft granite/schist wall will be fine....(but my in house wifi works down the lane?.....)

    BTW the French are revolting and it is great. My 'French' neighbour is unimpressed - his ancesters came from E Germany in the 1840's; (as did mine to Salt Mill in Yorkshire...)

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: I have one, Linky me

      BTW the French are revolting

      Yes, but how goes the war?

  24. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    hmmph

    Over leftside of the pond, I've gas, water and electric meters in the house. The electric has always been PL remote reporting (I've been here 9 years now) and whilst there was a month when weird crap happened (apparently you *can* get two devices with the same UUID from the same manufacturer) it is fairly accurate and the one time there was a severe screwup the fellow at the municipal utility that I chatted with (i.e. first line support on the call line) actually lives two blocks from me and had more than one clue in hand. The gas meter, they have a couple older folks (one actually uses a fairly robust walker) who walk about the neighbourhoods and wave what looks like a calculator on a gun handle at the front of the house as they walk by to get the reading. The water meter got changed out, and 6 months later got its 'remote reading' bolt on. Interestingly after they yanked the old one out, they apparently figured it damaged and handed me back about 40% of what I'd paid them up to that point. I don't read meters and don't have to answer doors.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not for us either.

    We've had the badgering phone calls, e-mails and they've even tried door-stepping us, and every time they get the same answer, no we don't want one. Being an instrument tech I know just how unreliable/inaccurate metering accuracy can be, and these devices are the cheapest possible design built as cheaply as possible. The horror stories about installers doing damage, leaving things disconnected or worse unsafe are legion, I've seen the aftermath of that, and that's without the devices starting fires due to defects, the infamous remote disconnect contacts arcing have been implicated in several cases. Add on the utilities believing the device is accurate when it's gone wrong and the potential for huge direct debits emptying your bank account who would want them?

    1. Not an Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not for us either.

      Just buy a pack of asbestos warning labels, invite them in and ask them not to disturb the dust too much.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. El Diablo

    I also have one of the Hellspawn meters of which you speak.

    Incidentally mine never worked, in fact it was so terrible they nearly cut me off because three (!) remote meter readings had failed, and alas the one time a meatsack appeared at my door to read it by hand I was out at work.

    It appears that this is a known issue, as they use a variant of 3G technology and to say this has spotty coverage is an insult to a virus that took millions of years to evolve.

    I did find out that the reason a certain ISP discontinued their 3G dongles is... Guess what... Smart meter interference. Whoda thought!!!!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    whole point of Linky

    I don't get the whole EM waves debate around Linky ...

    Who cares as we already have tons of those already ...

    The whole point of Linky is to be able to remotely disconnect you after exactly 48 hours of unpaid bill.

    Like every french customer knows, if you don't have automatic paiement (aka, they take what they wish from your wallet, which is a big NO for me), they flood you with tons of reminders every week, being so desperate for an IMMEDIATE paiement !

    So, yeah, any time you have this thing, believe me, they'll cut you off less than one week after unpaid invoice.

  28. fidodogbreath Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    That is, I share a pessimist's fatalistic view on the Inevitability of The Fuckup as held by most of those whose work frequently glimpses the wiring under the board.

    ^^^ this ^^^

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