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Yesterday evening I added the remote disable feature. This also comes up if you've built your own ColorHug from the plans, and haven't yet set a serial number. If that's the case, just send me an email and I'll assign you a block of serial numbers for no charge. That way we can avoid having lots of unofficial devices all with the serial number of 0xffffffff.

In related news, I'm still waiting for packages with:

* The CD envelopes (from HK)
* The PCBs (from Europe)
* The IR filters (from China)
* The device main labels (from UK)

But everything else has arrived, and been unpacked. I've got no real idea if I'm going to get all the parts before Christmas, all the deliveries are taking way longer than usual.
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Jakub Steiner's profile photoJohn A. Tamplin's profile photoAndrew McNabb's profile photoPaweł T. Jochym's profile photo
29 comments
 
That reads more like "Please go the the nearby police station and own up" :)
 
Oh, I thought all that was about calibrating a monitor, and not trying to establish a dictatorship.

Maybe you should just get a few beers and rethink what you are trying to accomplish.
 
Remote deactivation is a really nasty feature, but beyond that is going to be a major headache to maintain.
Do yourself a favour, avoid the burden for yourself first and for the image of the project second.
 
+Kay Sievers +Simo Sorce It's my understanding that this was a case of not being able to download the firmware for a lost/stolen device, not actually bricking it.

What else is he meant to do about people who order a device and then claim they've never received it? In the UK the law requires a business to give a refund if the customer claims an item hasn't arrived after 30 days. This is only a trial run with minimum (if any) profit, remember.
 
Use certified mail that give you assurance the person got the package ?
 
I'm pretty sure the UK knows the concept of sending stuff with receiver tracking and covered by insurance. Implementing that in the device instead is just weird.
 
It's a tiny plastic box, I don't want to drive all the way into the nearest town just to pick it up because they need me to sign for it. First class comes with some level of insurance anyway (read the other thread where this was discussed in more detail) and it'll go through my letter box quite nicely.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Godwin's law was invoked up top, unless +ColorHug is going to invade Poland... :P
 
+Matt Molyneaux There are some Poles here... I have nothing against (semi-)blocking stolen/lost devices, but I think that it is effective only as a barier not as an effective measure. The hard/soft-ware is open, so anything you implement in the firmware could be reversed. Except for cryptographic signing of the firmware. But this will tivo-ize the device and render it non-free. So implement it if you have nothing better to do but perheps word the message in less accusing way. The thief is not going to bother anyway but the lawfull owner will be offended if it is not his/her fault. And do not brick the device under any circumstances.
On the other hand tracking stolen devices could be handy... ;)
 
BTW, personally I would just as soon not get a CD -- they will be out of date instantly, so instead just provide a link for downloading the software.
 
+Kay Sievers I was advised to do something like this by my bank business manager. Apparently a lot of people in the EU order products, sign for it in a different name and then claim the parcel never arrived. In the UK you have to refund the cost to the consumer, even if you suspect they are actually using it. You can't just require that everyone has tracked shipping as:

* it's quite expensive, especially for a low cost device
* you have to spend ages with filling in forms to the post office to get any kind of compensation back (and then it's 3 months before you get any money)
* It's not available for certain EU countries (cough, Italy, cough) due to things being marked as registered being more likely stolen as the thief thinks it's more valuable.

I'm not trying to form a dictatorship, all the code is open source and all the hardware design is open too, but I can't afford to loose money on the first batch from a few people taking advantage. I'm kinda insulted given how open I'm being with everything. We discussed the feature in great detail in previous blog posts and I thought we had come to a consensus. Perhaps I was wrong.
 
I personally don't have any issue with it, and I really doubt you will have problems with early adopters (and it likely wouldn't be effective anyway, as they are likely to be able to reprogram the device on their own).

However, it doesn't hurt to have the ability to disable it if you never have to use it, and in fact just having it may prevent abuse in the first place.
 
Having to deal with this sort of issue at all, stinks. Now I understand a little more why you said on Linux Outlaws you would be happy when some cheap Chinese clone is readily available on eBay.
 
As long as the deactivation is based on a postive response from the webserver and not on the absence of a response, I am fine with it. I would be very annoyed if this message popped up when I happen to use the device without internet connection.
 
Remote disablement of any stuff has nothing to do with 'defence', it's just a completely misguided idea of central control in the hand of a single organization. No infrastructure should make it easy to support that. For the record +ColorHug has absolutely zero support from me for that reason. Just by knowing such functionality is added at the core is a big FAIL!
 
Let us not get overexited +Kay Sievers . It is your right to not support something. And it is author's right to implement some feature. He is working in real world and had to invest his own coin. The risk is his not yours. Please be a little more polite.
 
+Kay Sievers So I guess you don't support LoJack for your car, right? This seems directly analogous.
 
RHEL is open source, and you can build and redistribute it from source, which is exactly what CentOS does.

The "with full support" part is the part in error here, since what you actually pay for is support, not the OS.

Let's chill out here -- clearly we support paying ColorHug for the device or we wouldn't be here. I have never had any issues with fraud shipping board games, but maybe in the EU with these laws about distant selling it is more of a problem, and if so needs to be protected against. If you don't agree with this approach, then don't buy it (and I think it should be known to purchasers, which would probably get rid of any fraud just from the notice), but I don't think there is any point in having a heated debate about it here.
 
+Kay Sievers In a sense, since if you stop paying the support contract you stop getting updates. Someone who stole a Colorhug can continue using it indefinitely without updating it.

Regarding this particular mechanism, I think this doesn't really help things much. Imagine someone received a device, kept it, and reported it as non-delivered so got their money refunded. They try and update it and get this notice -- there is no way they are going to call support, for fear of being charged with fraud. So, they spent no money, but have something that isn't usable and spent a lot of time. You spent money, don't have the device, and don't have a user for the device that was shipped -- lose/lose all around. So, I suggest that the only valuable part of this mechanism is making it known that stolen devices will be disabled, thus preventing the fraud in the first place (and like anti-theft signs at houses, it doesn't have to be actually backed up by implementation to be at least somewhat effective -- the people that can inspect the source and figure out it isn't there are the same people who could reprogram the device anyway).

If instead you had some way of "phoning home", you could find who has the "stolen" device and contact them, telling them to give you your money back or you will file charges (which will likely be successful). The downside is it requires net connectivity which may be inconvenient for some uses, and privacy concerns about phoning home.

Just trying to help solve your goals while removing objections.
 
+John Tamplin look at the screen shot. It's not just refusing to update, it's bricking the user's device, which is just insane.
 
+Kay Sievers Yes, I understand the difference. How many RHEL customers do you think continue using it after ceasing to pay for support? I would guess not many.

We get that you disagree with the choice. If you aren't interested in fruitful discussion and just want to keep saying the same inflammatory things, then there doesn't seem any point in continuing the conversation.
 
Maybe a better solution to the problem would be to default to a more expensive, insured shipping and only use the standard air mail if people accept the risk themselves?
 
Can people please just read the european distance selling regulations please. Even signed-for parcels can be signed for by anyone, and this doesn't excempt you from the law. I don't imagine I'll ever use the functionality ever, but having the feature means it disuades people from taking the piss.
 
+Jakub Steiner I would prefer to have the feature which will not effect me and have the cheaper shipping, thank you. I prefer not to pay for dishonest customers...+Richard Hughes: just try to make it in the way which minimizes risk of legitimate users being inconvenienced.
 
I first heard about ColorHug from the LWN report on this controversy. I've actually been thinking about getting a color calibrator recently, so I'm interested in ColorHug. Unfortunately, the remote-kill functionality is more likely to deter me from ordering a ColorHug than for carrying out a scam (which I'm not inclined to do anyway).
 
+Richard Hughes I'm pretty sure the 50 extra orders are due to the publicity from LWN and not because they're actually excited about the anti-feature. :)
 
I don't like the feature and it seems unlikely to be of value as I have never had an issue shipping in the EU, but maybe Richard's experience is different.

However, it doesn't bother me because a) I'm not planning to steal it and b) I can reflash it to remove the feature if necessary.
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