Coffee heat rising

Why a “connected” home is a bad idea

appleairportthingieSo yesterday afternoon I came home from a three-hour meeting (+ two hours of commute time) to find the wireless connection was down. Apparently the power was out for about an hour and a half.

The fix for this is to shut everything down on both the laptop and the desktop (quite a time-suck, since I always have a bunch of files open at once — the joys of multitasking!), disconnect the modem and the router, wait for a few minutes, replug the modem and router, and reboot the computers.

This worked last night…for about ten minutes. The wireless network came up for about ten minutes and then disappeared again. Several attempts had the same result.

Finally, I had to go to bed. So I left the modem and router disconnected overnight and rebooted again this morning. Same story.

When I got up this morning, the Nest thermostat informed me that it couldn’t find the wireless connnection.

Fortunately, it will drive the AC without being “connected” to the Internet. But…uhmmmm…. What if it didn’t?

Yeah. What if it didn’t? What if the refrigerator and the stove and the freezer and the lights and the locks on the doors and the watering system and the car and for godsake maybe even the toilet were connected to the Internet? The way, say, Google would like them to be?

What would happen if your modem went down then? You not only wouldn’t be able to publish and advertise your books on the Internet, you wouldn’t be able to effing LIVE.

Connecting your entire life to the Internet not only means you dispense with privacy, it means you dispense with the basic ability to survive autonomously. Or more or less autonomously — obviously you depend to a large degree on the power grid and the transportation system to go about your daily life. But…do we really need another system to have to depend on? Another system that leaves us in deep sh!t every time it goes down?

When the power goes down, you have a few headaches, but — assuming you don’t depend on it to operate a life-sustaining tool like a breathing aid — the hassles are inconvenient but minor. When the wireless goes down, you can’t do business at all.

To get online to all the sites I have to operate, I need a collection of passwords that is FIFTEEN SINGLE-SPACED PAGES LONG. To get into Amazon to post the next Racy Book we’re about to put online, I need an Excel workbook that contains ELEVEN SPREADSHEETS, one of which winds out like toilet paper. These things need to be open and on the terminal where I’m working in order for me to navigate the tasks I have to do. I also need access to folders that contain not only each book’s contents in PDF, .mobi, ePub, and Wyrd formats, but its cover image in Powerpoint, a high-resolution TIFF file sized for Amazon, a high-res JPEG sized for Smashwords, a low-res JPEG sized for Bowker, and a low-res JPEG sized for thumbnails. Just now there are eight books actively in play.

To move from one computer to another — as I had to do overnight — I have to transfer TWENTY-ONE GIGABYTES of data!

Fortunately, just a week or so ago I bought a large flash drive, since I wanted to back that data up not only to a thumb drive that could be disconnected and kept safely out of reach of hackers but also to the big desktop, which is connected to Time Machine, which not only backs up but encrypts your data as you type.

The desktop iMac, a fantastic piece of equipment, is hardwired to the Internet. However…

Yesh. However. The problem is, I can’t work at it for any length of time because the back and hip pain flare up (with a fuckin’ VENGEANCE) every time I sit in a desk chair for longer than ten or fifteen minutes. Just writing this blog post is gonna freaking cripple me.

Consider: I’ve been putting in twelve and fourteen-hour days, seven days a week! If I can’t get back online with the laptop, I’m essentially out of business.

Now transfer that thought to “no wireless connection” to operate the air-conditioning and the heat and the refrigerator and the stove and the freezer and the lights and the locks on the doors and the watering system and the car and for godsake maybe even the toilet.

To be fair, Google proposes to use the Nest thermostat as a kind of hub that will allow a “smart” home’s devices to keep talking to each other even if the wireless is down. But…has anyone noticed what Google DID to the Nest device after it purchased the company? The Nest on my wall was originally fairly simple to operate — certainly not as easy as an old Honeywell round bump on the wall, but once you figured it out, not a freaking nightmare. Shortly after Google took over, they force-fed new software into the thing, and it’s now screaming incomprehensible. I can no longer program it — that’s way, way beyond my skills and patience. It’s all I can do to turn it on and off and change the temperature setting.

Why would anyone want to depend on a complicated nightmare of a gadget that requires a degree in computer engineering to operate?

The last thing on this earth we need is to have to be “connected” to go about our daily lives. It’s risky enough that our business lives depend on this technology.