It’s a thermostat not a bank account

Skyport

THANKS FOR MAKING MY THERMOSTAT HACK-PROOF

Sometimes the modern world is just SILLY.

When we got our first wi-fi accessible thermostat, years ago in New Jersey, I thought the concept was silly. But the thing needed to be tweaked many times to keep us comfortable (okay, me comfortable – the husband doesn’t notice a range of temperature of at least 20°F), so I found it convenient to be able to do so from my office, without having to go down to the dining room, which was at the far end of the next floor down.

This was a time when I was often having to drawl back upstairs due to back problems, so the wi-fi enabled thermostat was a convenience.

But we’re in a two-bedroom, one-floor apartment now

and it is fewer than twenty steps from my desk to the thermostat by the kitchen.

Nevertheless, we got the wi-fi enabled thermostat because it was the only one available that would let us keep the apartment comfortable by allowing a RANGE of temperatures, instead of just cooling and heating settings.

Yup. We looked for a long time, and couldn’t find, in most thermostats, the most obvious necessity for a thermostat: the ability to go through a California day, heating in the morning, and cooling in the afternoon during the summer, without having to switch manually from heating to cooling or back. Every day.

So. We got the fancy one.

And it came with an app for the desktop (and one for the mobile phones – but that’s just ridiculous).

And it requires an account.

And a password.

Keep in mind that this is a SINGLE thermostat

for maintaining a SINGLE heating/air conditioning unit in a small apartment.

To keep me from walking fewer than twenty steps.

Because, even though it’s the fancy one which can maintain a RANGE, it still needs tweaking by a human, during the peak heating or air conditioning seasons, several times a day.

So I created an account, and a login, and a password – probably 6-8 characters.

And today I get this letter.

So I’m venting here about the ridiculousness of the whole concept of needing a 12-digit password and all this rigamarole for a THERMOSTAT for an apartment.

Because I doubt that if I write to the company they will take me seriously (and I’m not taking them and their 12-digit hack-resistant thermostat seriously).

And I cannot imagine why it is necessary, and I thought it would amuse my readers.

The thermostat can handle far more than our little apartment, and has settings for zones, and several stage AC units, etc., etc., etc.

And I still can’t imagine why it needs a non-hackable password.

Oh, well.


I should mention the thermostat does work, after I do all that tweaking, and that the tweaking is probably necessary because of the stupid place the thermostat temperature sensor was installed – probably right next to the thermostat – something over which we had NO control, but I know I will have to go through this procedure whenever they tell me to, and this is my revenge on people who waste my time.

And yes, I know I’m wasting more, but it makes me feel better about the future.

Plus I haven’t blogged for a couple of days from the inside of the CCRC in total lockdown, and small things can be annoying. Such as losing your 12-digit password.


 

21 thoughts on “It’s a thermostat not a bank account

  1. acflory

    lol – 12 digits? That really is ridiculous. My thermostat has programs you can set but…I prefer to do it manually. I love computers but I loathe things like remote controls. Plus, I figure my skin is the best programmable thermostat ever invented. I always know when I’m having a hot flush! 😉

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  2. Chris

    Such stories always remind me of the Unabomber, who might have been (arguably) insane and did kill people, but his manifesto wasn’t all that insane when he described a world so dependant on technology that makes it impossible not to use it.
    Many people have cars, he said, so cities are now built so that you need a car to go from place A to place B. Well, now everyone needs a car; it’s not a choice anymore.
    I’m younger than you, but although a tech-minded person (besides an author I’m also a coder), I adamantly refuse to have anything in my house that can access the internet apart from computers and phones. I want my coffee maker and my fridge steam-powered, thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I agree – it’s entirely silly to have things go through the INTERNET to get to each other IN my house. We should have a little tiny INTRANET.

      As for understanding it, Robert Heinlein, in my favorite The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, pointed out (central plot point, in fact) the foolishness of running everything through the central computer – and had people have very simple controls in their farms that were not affected when Mike (the sentient computer) ran the boss’s toilets backward and had it shake him up with a sonic boom periodically.

      I was probably tech minded before you were born.

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      1. Lloyd Lofthouse

        If we didn’t have to go through the internet for just about everything, how would big business be able to collect every tidbit of information they can about us?

        Our shopping habits.
        The content of our e-mails.
        What we watch on TV.
        What we eat.
        Our health.
        Our driving habits.
        Where we are at any given moment.
        et al.

        Instead of being worried that the government is spying on us, we should be afraid of Big Business.

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        1. Lloyd Lofthouse

          I know. The only way to escape the corporate spy industry is to live in a log cabin deep in some wilderness area in Alaska or Montana and be completely off the grid living just like Americans did back in the 18th century.

          And I do not want to do that.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Jeanne

        The internet isn’t a central computer, though, and no one I know is friends with an AI, so although it seems overkill, we need individual security on the internet of things.

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        1. Lloyd Lofthouse

          I do not think there is an AI that can think for itself and learn like a human. Instead, a real AI is programmed to learn, but there is bias in those programs that guides what and how it learns. If you buy a computer or robot that claims it is an AI and it learns on its own, all you will be doing is teaching “it” to think and say what you want it to think and say. Might as well buy one of those colorful parrots that learn to say what you want it to say.

          I could see someone like Donald Trump buying lots of AIs that would follow him around telling him how great and successful he is because that is all Trump wants to hear.

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        2. Lloyd Lofthouse

          The only way Pence will become president is if he invokes the 25th Amendment. With all the horrible things Trump has already done, what would he have to do to drive Pence to actually use the Amendment?

          With Trump’s criminal mind, his obsession with unproven conspiracy theories, and his support of white supremacists, and the fact that he is a serial lying, malignant narcissist and psychopath, he is clearly unfit and a danger to the country and even the world.

          Pence has plenty of evidence to support him.

          But, Trump would probably have to shoot Pence’s wife on 5th Avenue in front of thousands of witnesses, and then Pence would have to pray to his god for guidance before he might act.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Lloyd Lofthouse

    Thank you for more reasons why I do not want a smartphone or smart devices like this thermostat.

    In the summer, I do the opposite. I get up between 6 and 7 AM and open the house with fans pulling in the cool air. I close up the house between 9 and 10 AM (the temp inside is usually below 68 or lower by then) and set the thermostat to start cooling when the inside temp reaches 76 or 78. I keep a fan going in my home office to keep the air moving and wear shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt.

    Most of the time, the inside of my house doesn’t reach 76 or 78 until about 5 PM and then the HVAC comes on. As soon as it is dark, I turn the temp down to 66 degrees until I go to bed, and then it goes back up to 70.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      You have 1) much more energy than I have, 2) a building with a different amount of thermal inertia (ours is a four-story apartment complex), and 3) a much wider tolerance of temperature variation.

      I’m a hothouse flower, and the ME/CFS keeps me non-functional if I get too hot or too cold – I’m constantly adjusting. It’s a good thing he’s relatively insensitive.

      But if you have trouble walking, and the thermostat isn’t next to you, it’s a nice feature.

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  4. Holly Jahangiri

    I forgot to mention that while they’re cooking your brain on the hottest day of the year, they’re holding your entire system ransom for $800 or so. Just enough you’ll pay, rather than ripping out the thermostat and rewiring the apartment yourselves. 😉

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  5. Holly Jahangiri

    Oh, easy answer – and you’re a writer, so you should know this one. Imagine:

    Hacker: “Let’s turn up the heat.”
    Alicia: “Hm, is the AC broken?”
    Alicia’s husband: “Don’t think so – let’s turn it down a degree or two, and see if that feels better.”
    Hacker: “Sweet. I’m in. Now let’s really crank it up…”

    At this point, they’ve probably also gotten into your billing account, possibly hacked your credit card, locked you out and applied a double-opt-in set to send a code to their phone, not yours – you get the picture?

    NOW, let me give you sleepless nights… the Russians can already do this to our entire power grid. https://youtu.be/W8kqDB7zebs

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I get the picture – and, since I use a completely different password for every account, I was probably already safe.

      We have the craziest imaginations – because we don’t have to do the hard work of actually figuring out how to do the hacking!

      Liked by 1 person

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