I am getting annoyed at the new technology trends. It seems like everything that you own, from your computers, to cell phone, and even your car is being controlled by someone else. These endless “system updates” are becoming another income stream for technology companies that are looking to use your connected equipment to make more money. Car companies are charging people a monthly fee for things like using their cruise control and their air conditioning. The air conditioner costs $15 a month, the ability to tow a trailer is $20 a month, and engaging the four wheel drive sets you back $40 a month. Heck, even the seat warmers cost $4 a month. It will cost you $20 a month to use your key fob to remotely unlock or start your vehicle.

Remember when you used to buy software? Now you rent it by paying yearly fees to use the stuff that you bought.

One of the things that I did at my current house was to make it a smart house. I have more than 150 smart devices: I can control ceiling fans, lights, irrigation, and even the thermostat- all with smart devices. The backbone of the system is Samsung Smartthings. It has been great. I started doing home automation back in 2014. Since then, my system has expanded.

One of the best things is my lawn sprinklers. I have a personal weather station on the roof of my house, and the system analyzes how much rain I have gotten, using that to adjust the schedule and amount of water the lawn gets. The lawn looks amazing, and the only effort it requires on my part is some weed and feed every 3 months or so.

When I am out of the house, the system monitors for intruders, water leaks, fires, turns the air conditioning to a more economical setting, turns off the water heater, locks the doors in case I forgot, and even turns lights on and off to make it look like I am home. It monitors my freezer temperatures and the humidity of the gun safe and will alert me if there is a problem. The system feeds and waters my wife’s cats, and empties their litter box. My carpets are vacuumed and floors mopped. All automatically. Until we decided to move, I was going to add robotic lawn mowing to the stable and get rid of my lawn service. I feel like George Jetson. Nearly every household chore is automated, and it makes things very convenient and easy.

Until recently. Samsung has been making changes to their systems so that they are easier for people with no tech skills to use. What this means, is that my devices are getting changed and “dumbed down” to the point where I don’t think my next house will be a smart house. Where I used to be able to write, edit, and change the drivers to my system, it is becoming less so.

It all started with changes to how the system dealt with my Sonos speakers. I once had it set up so that the system made announcements over the speakers: things like “your wife is home” when she would arrive, or “your in-laws have arrived” when they came over, so that I knew to put pants on. Then there was a system update 2 years ago, and the speakers don’t talk to the system anymore.

It’s little things. I used to have the ceiling fans set up so that I could adjust their speed from 0-100 percent. Last night, there was a system update, and now my choices are low-medium-high. If I had wanted low-medium-high, I would have set it up that way.

It isn’t just Samsung. A couple of years ago, Google bought out the company that made my fire alarms. Now I can’t change, replace, or add anything without updating the drivers to Google device drivers and becoming a NEST customer, which will charge me money for monitoring the system.

So going forward, I have a few choices:

  • Continue with Smartthings, and keep losing functionality. It will still require a fair bit of time and money to set up the new house
  • As long as I am moving, I could switch to Home Assistant, which I have been playing with and will give me a lot of control, but will even more work, a steep learning curve, a good bit of money, and I just don’t know if I want to invest the time and money to do it right now
  • go back to having a “dumb house”
  • or sharply cut back on what automation I do have, to get what I refer to as “a mildly retarded house” with a lot less functionality, but at low cost and not a lot of work.

There is a lot going on right now, and I don’t know if I have the time for most of the options above.

Categories: Me


It's just Boris · August 2, 2023 at 6:40 am

Speaking of which, you’ve seen that 1Password is going to a subscription only service, that requires you to keep your database on their cloud servers?

I’m thinking of moving us to KeePass.

On the smart home front we’ve only gone a little down that road. Been using Vera, will need to migrate to Ezlo at some point as Vera is out of business and our controller is getting flakey. Sigh.

EN2 SS · August 2, 2023 at 6:49 am

All of which means, when your Social Score drops you get turned off until you give up and follow the fascists directives. Good luck.

Elrod · August 2, 2023 at 6:55 am

It’s a Marketing Opportunity.

Build your own system. Lotsa. lotsa work, doing it from scratch with 1s and 0s, but:
1) You wil get exactly what you want
1b) And you already know “exactly what you want.”
2) If “exactly what you want” is popular (enough), others will want it, too.
2b) If popular (enough) Google, or someone else, will whore you out with a large check, maybe even FU Money.
3) If no one else wants it you will still have “exactly what you want.”
3b) If you’re buying new/building new, wire-in-the-walls (to include sensors) is cheaper than retrofit (and maybe “W-I-T-W” is just empty flexible conduit for now)

    Divemedic · August 2, 2023 at 8:09 am

    That’s what home assistant is.
    Also, do you know what it costs to have wire put in the walls?
    The meeting with the technology contractor was eye opening. The house comes with a standard set of wiring. If you want more, it costs more.
    It costs $150 just to add a CAT6 cable from one room to another.
    $125 for each wall mounted electrical outlet you want to add.
    $400 for an in floor outlet.
    $155 to add wiring for each extra light fixture. The fixture costs more.
    The costs add up quickly.

      D · August 2, 2023 at 9:31 am

      > That’s what home assistant is.

      I’ll second that.
      I started playing with it about a year ago.
      It’s easy to install and run, but it’s a bit clunky to configure.

      Once it’s up and running and configured, it’s pretty damn flexible. They seem to have integrations for just about everything. I started playing around with solar, batteries, and inverters recently. It even integrates with that and gives me a decent dashboard for power generation.

Toastrider · August 2, 2023 at 7:19 am

You know, twenty years back there was an RPG sourcebook that pointed out the security issues with ‘always connected’ and ‘Internet of things’ devices.

(For the terminally nerdy among us, this was Shadowrun’s Sprawl Survival Guide.)

Honestly, I’m waiting for the hacker kidz to start taking whacks at some of these trees. It’ll be quality entertainment.

    Divemedic · August 2, 2023 at 7:37 am

    Everyone always pictures your house being pwned by some master hacker with a computer setup costing a bundle, when in reality it’s gonna be a meth addict with a screwdriver or a rock.

      Toastrider · August 2, 2023 at 11:15 am

      Oh, most likely.

      But the point still stands. Why let anyone have that kind of access?

    jed · August 4, 2023 at 5:33 pm

    Anytime anyone mentions RPG, I get flashbacks to when I learned Report Program Generator in school. Never used it on the job.

    – Yes, use KeePass – store your pwd database locally, not in the cloud.
    – @TechieDude: Years ago, I read a very good article on “change fatigue”. I should’ve saved it, because last I tried to find it, I couldn’t. And, for those advocating Linux, well, yeah, it isn’t SAAS, but it suffers from the “innovate” mentality as well, and I’ve had change fatigue with it for probably 10 years. The UI now is, IMHO, significantly dumbed down from what it was back in what I think of as the good old days, which the GTK v1.4 timeframe.
    – Home automation? Meh.It bothers me none to have to turn on lights and run my own vacuum. If I really want something like automatic lights, e.g. for vacation time, I still have a bin full of X10 stuff, which is good enough for my needs.
    – I’m with SiG; I’ll either just keep repairing my current vehicle, or be very careful when replacing to get something old enough to be free of all that crap. I’d like to see the car mfrs. get the Bud Light treatment – people should just stop buying these vehicles.

TechieDude · August 2, 2023 at 8:13 am

There is nothing that makes me more crazy than subscriptions. I have this thing about being an annuity for a business. For instance, I use SplashID. I have a lifetime license to version 8. But since they came out with v9, I’ve been having sync issues. Their support is useless, of course.

I paid for a perpetual license. Is it wrong to expect perpetual means it’ll work until I no longer need/want it?

Sadly, that’s the model in the tech world today. Cloud everywhere, SAAS. You know why?
Because it’s easier to sit back and collect money than innovate. In the past, they’d have to continually improve their products to keep market share. Now? Updates and upgrades are usually fixes, maybe one small feature. The products I support haven’t materially changed in a decade.

Apple, by far, is the worst. Their stuff works great. Until it doesn’t. Device too old to upgrade the OS, well you’re stuck in amber as you watch functionality fad away when the apps upgrade past your OS level.

I’m sick to death of changes in functionality pushed out to apps I use and depend on. I’m also sick of, like you mentioned, paring back functionality where you only discover what they did when you notice the app misbehaving.

I’ve moved my personal laptop to Linux. It does about everything I need to do. I have a windows tower I use for apps that are windows only. If you poke around in command line, in Windows you may see something running called WAAS. Windows as a Service.

That’s where we’re going.

    Divemedic · August 2, 2023 at 8:19 am

    What kills me is the model where the device has the hardware already, but the hardware is disabled by software until you pay to subscribe to it. Cars are a good example of that. If you want to be able to roll down your window, it’s gonna cost you $50 a year.

SiG · August 2, 2023 at 9:27 am

Not just no, hell no. To subscription services like a charge for using a key fob to unlock your car or run the air conditioning and so on.

How different is that from the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset? “You’ll own nothing but (we’ll) be happy.”

I just recently sunk almost $5000 into keeping my 13 year old car running. I’m thinking about whether I try to keep it up or just go get something a bit newer. Maybe four years old or so. Not if it has that crap. I detest the subscription model.

Keep in my mind, I paid extra for a dumb TV than a smart TV that monitors everything I do.

pchappel · August 2, 2023 at 9:34 am

Interested to hear what your eventual choice is… Working in IT for (apparently) too long I’ve seen a lot of software and services transition to a subscription model. Heck we’ve just gotten the news that our “perpetual” VMWare licenses are useless going forward as the company is switching to a subscription model. No good alternatives in the short tem, but in the long term I think this is going to drive a lot of us to alternate technologies.

With the house, I resisted as long as possible, but the “simple” network I had is no longer sufficient for the sheer number and variety of devices the family has… And while more interconnectivity might well be good with the wife wanting the security cameras, Google/Amazon devices and temperature controls (N Texas, so AC is kind of important)… Centralizing that seems a good idea, but I’m not interested in turning it all over to google to monetize or charge me a subscription fee to use my own stuff…

Richard · August 2, 2023 at 9:41 am

Check out the Hubitat vs. the Home Assistant – runs on/with similar protocols to the smart things… but more friendly for your own needs.

Bad Dancer · August 2, 2023 at 10:10 am

Please let us know what you decide. It’s something I am very interested in and am trying to read up on as I plan to buy or build a house.

I dislike feeling trapped as a user of a product and hate the disdain that the “prosumer” is held in by designers and engineers.

ET Phones Scotty · August 2, 2023 at 11:03 am

Key phrase-controlled by someone else.

Gryphon · August 2, 2023 at 2:27 pm

You are Paying for your Enslavement, just like you are Paying for and Carrying the Enemies’ Surveillance Device (the I-Phone). Any and All Devices that you connect to the Internet can and are being Monitored, 24/7/365. This is how you will be Controlled like a Rat in a Cage. (((big tech))) has been perfecting this Social Credit Score/Internet of Things in communist China for the last ten Years or more. Ever Wonder why so many vast “Data Centers” are popping up like Weeds around every City? 5g ‘Wideband’ Cell Systems? it is to have the Bandwidth and Computing Capacity to Control everything that you (Don’t) own, to force you to Comply with (((their))) every Command.

Unless you Remove, disable, or Replace every Wi-Fi Capable Device in your Home, you will be Vulnerable to (((Control))). And the Idea that someone would even Contemplate ‘owning’ a Vehicle that one has to Pay for its Functions is, well, Retarded.

    Divemedic · August 2, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    That ship sailed more than a decade ago. Your driver’s license photo? It’s been digitized, and you are part of the facial recognition system. Don’t believe me? Try entering the country through a port of entry. They don’t ask to see your passport any longer. Just face the camera, and the machine looks you up.
    So, thinking about how that could be applied- become a part of the next J6 protest, and see how quickly you lose access to bank accounts.
    If you own a car made after 2018, your car already has the technology installed that allows them to make any function on the car a subscription service. It’s buried in the consumer agreement that you agreed to when you bought the car- you know, those long agreements that you probably didn’t read and that require arbitration instead of going to court?

      Gryphon · August 3, 2023 at 1:59 pm

      What I’m saying, is that You are participating in your Enslavement by Actively Using way more of the “Control Grid” than you need to. Nothing in my Home has Wi-Fi and can even be Grid-Tied. There is No Internet Connection. My Vehicles have No Electronics, and cannot be Tracked or Remote-Controlled. The most I participate in is having a “Driver’s License” and paying Taxes on (some) of the Vehicles.

      When You, or anyone else, Participate to the maximum available extent with the (((beast system))), you are fooling yourself if you think you are a “Dissident”. At some point, they will use all those ‘Things’ (that you Pay for) against You, and then, where will you be? Like someone said “A Plan to be on the Last Train to the Gulag, still Ends Up at the Gulag.”

        Divemedic · August 3, 2023 at 2:32 pm

        What’s even funnier is you thinking that by avoiding all of those things, they still can’t get you.

          Gryphon · August 6, 2023 at 5:21 pm

          “What’s even funnier is you thinking that by avoiding all of those things, they still can’t get you.”

          Well, How? Your ‘IOT Home’ provides Endless Ways for you to be F-d With. “They” would have to come to my place and Physically Attack Me. And they Don’t Know, for the most part, what I am doing at any given Moment, whereas You provide all sorts of Data Points (at your Expense) that can be used against you. Maybe you don’t live in an Exurban/Rural sort of Environment, or just embrace the Slavery for its Convenience; Maybe you just need to Eat the Bugs, Own Nothing, Take the Vaxx, and get on the Boxcar to the FEMA Camp, and BE HAPPY.

            Divemedic · August 6, 2023 at 6:12 pm

            You have a cell phone? A landline? An Internet connection? A car made in the past ten years? A bank account? Credit card? An email address?
            Dude- I’m not the NSA, and I can see your ISP, and I know what area of the country you live in. You aren’t as anonymous as you think you are. That’s not a threat or anything, I am just pointing out that privacy is dead, and has been for sometime.

Big Ruckus D · August 2, 2023 at 3:02 pm

This stuff really burns my ass. I avoid nearly all modern tech that sets this sort of trap up (short of smart phones), as I won’t stand for being continually extorted by these greedy (and lazy) fuckers.

I once was heavily into nascent smart home tech (using X-10 back then primarily, crappy as it was) and had done a pretty solid custom setup, including some hardware of my own design. I still have some lighting controls in place, but have decided the juice ain’t worth the squeeze on the current stuff. Too expensive, and too many gotchas, as DM has experienced first hand. Now I have a Honeywell manual thermostat that can’t be screwed with remotely, and my house is always comfortable to my taste. Tough shit if I’m wasting energy, I’m paying for it.

This kind of stuff calls for some expert hacking to remove the “phone home” checks for license validation, auto updates, and other intrusive bullshit. I did just that many years ago for several pieces of PC software In the late DOS and into the Windows 98 era. Sometimes out of necessity, as a couple of pieces of software I used heavily were published by outfits that went tango union, after which the periodic server check-ins couldn’t be done (as the companies and their servers were gone).

In one case, software had an annual license renewal, and once the outfit went bust, there was no way to get the license renewed. I had a decent backup, and compared the executables at byte level. Then went into the object code with a hex editor until I found the flag that had to be set to enable the “legit for another year” status, after which I was able to keep using it for free. Fuck ’em for leaving me high and dry on that one.

I haven’t needed to do that in a long time, and now run mostly Linux, with one ancient Pentium II as a dedicated DOS box for a few old things I still use from time to time, including a PROM/device programmer with no windows or Linux software to control it. That said, my approach of old definitely needs to make a comeback. Screw these outfits in the ass with a rusty chainsaw sideways for their inability to stay solvent without hitting their customers in the wallet repeatedly.

The car feature thing is especially infuriating. I won’t buy a new vehicle, and the oldest in my fleet is now 35 years old. No bullshit tracking tech, no overly complex electronics (and what is present I know how to fix, and have stockpiled spare modules and such anyway) and no need to get financially raped by companies wanting to sell me the use (on a repeated basis, no less) of hardware I already paid for.

Of course, at the rate things are going to shit, there won’t be gas to keep cars running anyway, and the highways will be loaded with bandits who’ll ambush and steal any running vehicles they come across. There’s a picture of the future for you. “Who runs barter town?”

Aesop · August 3, 2023 at 3:52 am

People weren’t listening in the 1960s:
The Jetsons was a parable, not a cartoon.
Every single device malfunctioned, eventually.
Frequently with life-threatening consequences to the intended customer.
Always at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way.
And the users were gullible airheads, too stupid to figure this out.

Pretty much like modern technology does.
And the kids designing the gadgets now are not as bright as their fathers, who landed men on the moon with slide rules and pencils.

Welcome to the future.
You should have figured we wuz robbed when there were no jetpacks, lasers, and flying cars.

Boneman · August 3, 2023 at 5:37 am

I’m fast becoming…. wait, scratch that… this “UPDATING” BS has just utterly reinforced my LUDDITE status to no end. I literally had to uninstall the “House Printer” from my computer because I swear… the software was updating my machine into OBLIVION…. for a PRINTER??? It got the the point where it would just randomly LOCK UP the machine. Once uninstalled, no longer a problem. That and the other day on the printers screen: NOTICE: There is a FIRMWARE UPDATE available… tap to install.

IT’s a FUCKING PRINTER FFS. Why is it even CONNECTED to the web?????

I’m still nursing along an old XP platform that runs AutoCAD LT 2007 because I REFUSE to “Rent” software and the sanctimonious poltroons at AutoDESK no longer support license migration.

Luddite… and PROUD OF IT.

    scriberareal · August 3, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Never accept a firmware update. I learned the hard way that an interrupted firmware update will brick an $800 printer.

Remote Control – Area Ocho · August 3, 2023 at 10:39 am

[…] go back and refer to my post about updates to electronic devices being updated and changed without your permission before you proceed with this […]

Jailbreaking Cars – Area Ocho · August 8, 2023 at 5:05 am

[…] have done a couple of posts on car companies forcing you to pay subscription fees to use features of your car. I have been […]

Comments are closed.