On Cloud Computing

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On Cloud Computing

Postby CleanMe » January 5th, 2017, 5:30 pm

This post is somewhat in response to http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=19684#p141430, but really belongs in General Chit Chat.

The advancement of smart devices & appliances provides many advantages to the consumer. However, we should keep in mind that no matter how hard we try to secure our networked communications – they likely can be breached by determined parties.

It's unlikely any one consumer would be the target of a determined hack attempt, but information we purposefully send to the 'cloud' could have many uses for governments and businesses. Currently, such information would likely be used anonymously and in-mass to help track consumer wants and needs. But not necessarily. As computing power increases, the ability to quickly sift through a vast amounts of data for one small piece of information becomes much easier. -- For instance, face recognition now allows an individual to be picked out of a crowd, or to be identified in one of millions of pictures. It's a near certainty that governments around the world have this ability now. Such data access can be used however they want - to assess consumer trends or to label you as an agitator - or worse.

And what about information that we don't knowingly and purposefully send to the cloud? With the right tools, embedded cameras and microphones can be turned on remotely and surreptitiously. How many devices do you own that have embedded microphones and cameras? Is your TV listening to you and sending that information to a far-away server? How about your phone, your laptop, or refrigerator!

And now, maybe even your vacuum cleaner. Is that ultrasonic sensor capable of sending audio signals to the cloud - even if that is not the purpose or what it was designed for? Can the camera feed be diverted so a potential robber knows the layout of your home? You can be sure that some hacker somewhere, sometime, will try it. And if he's successful, a new spy tool will appear on the web.

Most people who frequent this site know what the 'cloud' really is, but it's always useful to define it. When we send info to the cloud, we're simply sending it to a hard drive (or memory pool) on a network somewhere else in the world. (And Cloud Computing is nothing more than using computer resources at remote locations.) And all of the information we're currently sending to the cloud will probably stay on those remote networks in perpetuity. That means all of our documents, pictures, audio, and midnight Twitter rants - will remain in the hands of people we don't know, forever. And they can use it however they want. (see first paragraph)

There's another concern with cloud computing. What happens if the network connection is lost – for whatever reason? Can your smart vacuum still effectively navigate and remove dirt and dust from your floor? If not, I see that as a huuuuge disadvantage for that particular device. And if it can, then why is the cloud needed? (Except for firmware updates. That seems to be a very useful delivery system.)

As a final point – Our personal data is stored on servers/networks connected to the web quite frequently. Everyday stuff like credit card data, medical records, tax records, etc. And several times a year we read news stories about monstrous network breaches where all the data is stolen. We don't hear about the many smaller breaches. Why would we voluntarily put data anywhere on the web – where there's the potential for it to be stolen and/or miss-used?

I used to work in IT, and definitely am not anti-technology. Quite the opposite. But I do believe that when it comes to technology that has the capability to save/send personal data to parts unknown – we need to be very attentive.

No, I really am not paranoid. Nor do I believe in conspiracies, or that anyone's out to get me (or you). But I do believe we need to seriously examine the full capabilities of the smart devices we make part of our lives. As you can guess, for personal use I'm not a big proponent of cloud computing or cloud storage.
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Re: On Cloud Computing

Postby robocleaner » January 5th, 2017, 9:15 pm

CleanMe wrote:There's another concern with cloud computing. What happens if the network connection is lost – for whatever reason? Can your smart vacuum still effectively navigate and remove dirt and dust from your floor? If not, I see that as a huuuuge disadvantage for that particular device. And if it can, then why is the cloud needed?

The cloud isn't really used in that way for robotic vacuums (at least not yet). The robot vacuum is essentially autonomous, the cloud being used only to host and interact with wider IOT home processing requirements (apart from the updates as you mention, and remote control... perhaps starting a clean from your work location). It's been discussed before that for many, as a stand alone robot vacuum, much could be done at a local network level where full IOT processing isn't required. But within a decade or so, we'll probably all have some level of IOT interconnectivity between our home appliances/security etc.

The Samsung IOT SmartThings servers (which also drive the Samsung robot vacuums) are proving supremely reliable: They undergo regular updates, there's advanced text warnings, service is lost for no more that 10 minutes, and the system reboots perfectly every time. Many of the lost network connection issues reported here are (I think) either due to patchy Neato/iRobot service, or at a local network level. Certainly, Wi-Fi isn't consistent throughout my home, and to expect a roving robot to maintain a solid connection 100% of the time is IMHO unrealistic.
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Re: On Cloud Computing

Postby andyson » February 20th, 2017, 7:41 am

Very nice review, your robot is definitely doing its job คาสิโนออนไลน์
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Re: On Cloud Computing

Postby glnc222 » February 20th, 2017, 5:15 pm

WiFi turns out to be a more complicated system than appears when just setting up the simplest home use. The manuals for the routers have a ton of specialized protection features which can be configured I think for commercial spaces, enterprise networks, limiting access to the internet to protect internal networks and devices connected to them. Not my specialty.

There was a discussion on the German Roboter-Forum for a user who could not get a Samsung Powerbot connected to his secured network, trying to use a Guest network feature, and being loath to give his router password to the robot. Various internet channel number restrictions were discussed. I do not know much about this, but in the end it was recommended to give the bot the router password. There are posts all over of users on every brand of WiFi robot having connection problems. Routers must be configured specific ways to communicate with the robots, and some users reported making adjustments to their normal configurations to use the bots. It is not clear the robot firmware has reasonable procedures allowing use when the internet connection is down, but the local network is working. Neato Robotics reported its higher end D5 Botvac has a more sophisticated WiFi radio chip set with more capabilities, multiple hot spots or what not.

The WiFi connection is not needed to run the robots, but can be needed to set schedules if wanted (or cancel an existing schedule), besides the other features of dubious value besides playing around with the smart phone. One consequence of relying on the smartphone is the robot can only operate in the local network for which it is configured. Taking it to another house would be inconvenient. If the phone is near the robot it may not work with the phone directly and have to use a local router. Then all that equipment has to work just to operate the robot, as they do not seem to use the phone by itself except to configure the router connection -- except maybe that new Neato, who knows? That's just it: there is a mystery as to what requirements exist on these newer WiFi robots. That in itself is a sign there are inconveniences they don't want to publicize.

I don't see any software offered to operate the robot from a PC on a network, offloading scheduling from the robot internals to the PC initiating runs when wanted. Smartphones aren't useful for this not always being present. It is probably best to have it inside the robot but a control panel on the bot is needed, adding to cost.

The one thing which could be most useful with a remote connection is adding instructions to the house map to replace physical barriers such as mag strips and Virtual Walls. WiFi apps have started showing records of robot travel around the house, with actions available to make any use of that info. The top of the Samsung line at least offers a "select and go" feature to clean a particular room. I would prefer the robots get improved so they will actually clean a room instead of having to be rescued from some furniture they cannot navigate. I guess actual cleaning does not sell and customers just want more games to play on their smartphones.

There are a variety of luxury household gadgets requiring internet connections, installed by personal service technicians. There was a report of one where the technician is supposed to enter the customer's router password into his smartphone, probably for some automation of installation ill conceived . Security problems should be obvious (like giving credit cards to dubious functionaries). Cable TV installers are better than this I think, since they install routers themselves with their obvious security issues. A lot of sloppy products and services can be cooked up by casual businesses.
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