Author Topic: Is this reasonable?  (Read 6712 times)

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Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Is this reasonable?
« on: June 07, 2016, 05:19:49 pm »
A few weeks ago I bought a Cloud-based video doorbell for my house from Ring.com. This is a small battery powered device that has a video camera, a microphone, and a push button. It connects to a WiFi network and then, over the Internet, to Ring's cloud-based servers. When someone pushes the button or the device detects motion, it uploads video and audio to the Ring server and notifies the owner via a smartphone app, who can then view the video and listen to the audio. This is not an inexpensive device--it's USD$200.

I installed the device two weeks ago and it seems to work fine for a few days at a time. Then it stops reporting motion events. Once this happens, it's necessary to delete the device using the phone app and re-add it, including re-entering all of the WiFi info (network, passphrase). This process takes about five minutes to complete and it requires physical access to the device.

I've called Ring tech support twice about this problem and both times they've told me that whenever the device looses its connection to WiFi it's necessary to delete the device and re-add it using the app. This sounds like complete bullshit to me. I have several other WiFi capable devices (phone, Kindle, iPad) and none of these devices require me to reset the WiFi network info if my WiFi router resets or if I go outside the range of the network.

When I mentioned the possibility of getting a firmware update that fixes this problem, both techs told me this behavior is by design and not a bug! Does this sound reasonable to anyone? Who would design a device that behaves like this and why?
 

Offline MK14

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2016, 06:06:27 pm »
Maybe they kept a note about you on their computers, which is why the two techs agreed about the problem ?

I'm usually suspicious of new stuff, and try to use good reviews and stuff to make sure it is going to be a good and reliable product.

Many of the user reviews I have found seem to imply it is essentially NOT fit for purpose. At least in the UK, with damp weather and people wanting it to ring reliably and in a timely manner. NOT take 20 seconds etc.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ring-Wi-Fi-Enabled-Video-Doorbell/dp/B00N2ZDXW2#customerReviews

Quote
Put simply, this product does not work. The software is flaky and full of bugs; the device does not consistently notify when the door bell is rung (a pretty basic requirement for a video door bell); the software is inconsistent across shared devices and the video feed is rubbish. In short this is one of the worst products I have seen in recent years. Buy it at your own risk or save your money and get something that does work...
 

Online wraper

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2016, 06:08:09 pm »
This is complete BS. Wifi by itself is unstable beast, especially in crowded area. So this is just stupid excuse. As a workaround you could try setting different wifi channel on your router.
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 06:22:58 pm »
This is complete BS. Wifi by itself is unstable beast, especially in crowded area. So this is just stupid excuse. As a workaround you could try setting different wifi channel on your router.

I'm not in a crowded area. I live in a rural area with few neighbors. Running a WiFi analyzer at my house only shows my two WiFi networks (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).
 

Offline MK14

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 06:24:34 pm »
This is complete BS. Wifi by itself is unstable beast, especially in crowded area. So this is just stupid excuse. As a workaround you could try setting different wifi channel on your router.

I'm not in a crowded area. I live in a rural area with few neighbors. Running a WiFi analyzer at my house only shows my two WiFi networks (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).

It does NOT sound reasonable to me. Faulty firmware/hardware and/or bad design software/hardware, with poor customer support thrown in, by the sound of it.
If it was me I'd return it, as it does not sound very usable like this, and they don't seem to be fixing it.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 06:26:26 pm by MK14 »
 

Online nali

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2016, 06:47:00 pm »
This is complete BS. Wifi by itself is unstable beast, especially in crowded area. So this is just stupid excuse. As a workaround you could try setting different wifi channel on your router.

I'm not in a crowded area. I live in a rural area with few neighbors. Running a WiFi analyzer at my house only shows my two WiFi networks (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).


Maybe it's changing IP address by DHCP when it reconnects. Does your router have the option of assigning permanent leases, or can you use a static IP?
 

Offline dfmischler

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2016, 07:26:29 pm »
The law of averages tells us that half of all new products are below average.  Throw it back for a refund if you can.

I can't think of any reason something like this needs to connect via WiFi.  It is bolted to your house, right?  Seems like a natural fit for PoE to me.
 

Offline JPortici

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2016, 07:37:36 pm »
Sorry for the OT, but why would anyone actually want this? excuse me for being paranoid, but being recorded on video when i'm ringing the doorbell without me knowing... AND the video gets uploaded to some company's server (and of course that's only because you on the other side can see it? of course it is)
For me it's a NOPE.

At least here you should have to put out a sign warning that that area is under video surveillance, i think, because you are putting cameras on a public site
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2016, 07:55:41 pm »
Does this sound reasonable to anyone?
No!

No one in their right mind would design a product which is intended to be permenantly connected to a network, that fails every time a network issue is encountered. Of all the Wi-Fi devices I own, every single one of them will re-attempt to connect to the network several times (if not indefinately whenever it "sees" the network). Even my OBD-II dongle in my car does it.

As someone has already mentioned you may be able to lean on your country's consumer law to obtain a refund. In Australia such a fault would be considered a "major failure" as had you have known about it before buying the product, you probably wouldn't have bought it in the first place -- Under that circumstance here, you'd be entitled to a full refund and the manufacturer or store you bought it from is liable for any return shipping costs.

To me, it sounds like ring.com have no intention of providing long-term support to their customers or developing any software updates.

Side-note: What happens if ring.com goes bust or is bought out? Does that mean your doorbell no longer works? Also, it seems that anyone with physical access to your yard can reset the configuration and pair it to their own device/account if they wanted to. I get that video doorbells can be useful, but I'd be going with a hardwired job on its own VLAN with no access to the internet.

I've mentioned this in another post somewhere, but this is one example where "Smart Homes" and "The Internet of Things" is taking things too far and actually becoming more cumbersome or a hindrance. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 08:20:45 pm by Halcyon »
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2016, 09:21:00 pm »
Sorry for the OT, but why would anyone actually want this? excuse me for being paranoid, but being recorded on video when i'm ringing the doorbell without me knowing... AND the video gets uploaded to some company's server (and of course that's only because you on the other side can see it? of course it is)
For me it's a NOPE.

At least here you should have to put out a sign warning that that area is under video surveillance, i think, because you are putting cameras on a public site

I bought it because I wanted to see who comes up to the property during the day when I'm not at home. It's a rural area with few neighbors, so no one else can keep an eye on the place for me.

Yes, I do have a sign stating that I use video surveillance that's about two feet from the Ring.com doorbell. (I put the sign up when I installed general video surveillance after some dickhead stole some of my solar panels. The existing video cameras don't cover the area near the gate, however, which is why I put in the Ring.com device. It also serves as a bell that people can ring when they reach the gate so that I can open it for them.) My house is located on a private road, so anyone coming to the house is either an invited guest, or a trespasser, so perhaps any rules pertaining to warning signs might not apply in my case.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 10:34:35 pm by Sal Ammoniac »
 

Offline JPortici

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2016, 09:33:08 pm »
i totally see the point and if i wasn't clear, i have nothing against private surveillance :) but i have a couple of reservations when the data gets uploaded to a company's server (so they can provide it to you and totally don't do anything else with it)
 

Offline bitslice

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2016, 09:46:58 pm »
One day people will stop using wi-fi for devices that can just as easily be hard wired.

it will be known in history books as the "THE GOLDEN AGE OF GETTING A ****ING CLUE"



as it happens I've got something similar, "Xiaomi Smart Home" bought for £31
press a bell and it's supposed to talk to your iPhone.

it's got the range of a duvet fart and the worst installation process since chocolate floppies were patented.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 09:52:29 pm by bitslice »
 

Offline VulcanBB18

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2016, 09:53:35 pm »

Maybe it's changing IP address by DHCP when it reconnects. Does your router have the option of assigning permanent leases, or can you use a static IP?

While I agree they are wriggling to try and get out of supporting you, do have a quick look at this, if you're keen to keep it - may be a ok workaround. 

I'll stick with the cheapie webcam + free webcam security software (Webcam XP 5) - not quite as slick, but has 90% of those features  :D

cheers,
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2016, 10:36:32 pm »
Maybe it's changing IP address by DHCP when it reconnects. Does your router have the option of assigning permanent leases, or can you use a static IP?

My router can do all of that, but I don't think the Ring device supports anything other than DHCP. At least there's nothing I've seen, but perhaps there's a hidden configuration option that allows this.
 

Offline timb

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Is this reasonable?
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2016, 10:42:32 pm »

Maybe it's changing IP address by DHCP when it reconnects. Does your router have the option of assigning permanent leases, or can you use a static IP?

While I agree they are wriggling to try and get out of supporting you, do have a quick look at this, if you're keen to keep it - may be a ok workaround. 

I'll stick with the cheapie webcam + free webcam security software (Webcam XP 5) - not quite as slick, but has 90% of those features  :D

cheers,

I don't think using DHCP for local address assignment is causing any issues here. The vast majority of routers made in the last 15 years handle DHCP very well. Unless the lease timeout is set to something crazy like 5 minutes (most routers default to a few *days*), the device will be assigned the same address it had before it reset.

Thinking about it some, it sounds like the Ring unit isn't renewing its UPnP or NAT-PMP listing properly.

I was under the impression that these Ring units actually did live streaming when someone rings the doorbell; that is, the audio/video isn't actually uploaded to the company's servers. Instead, when someone rings the doorbell, the unit would make a request to the server with its unique ID; the server then sends a push notification to your phone. When you open the app, it contacts Ring's server, which sends back your home IP address and port. The app then connects directly to the Ring device which live streams video and/or audio. (However, I could see a single snapshot being uploaded to the company's servers, which is then included in the initial push notification or something.)

Anyway, in order for the app to be able to connect to the Ring device on your local network, it has to be able to open ports to the outside world, which is what EwePnP and Nat Pimp do. (Think of it as DHCP for ports.) So, if the device isn't refreshing the port lease, it could cause this issue.

The other issue could be related to your public IP address. Unless you've got an expensive commercial DSL or cable account, your public IP would be assigned dynamically. Depending on your ISP, this could change every day, or never. (If you use DSL or satellite, it's likely to be changing every couple of days.)

In this scenario, when you add the Ring device to the Ring app, they're registering your public IP address with their server. When your DSL modem resets and you get a new public IP, their server would have the old address and thus no longer be able to connect.

Now, you'd think they would have thought about this and would have some mechanism in the device itself to update the server if this happens, but I wouldn't put it past them...
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; e.g., Cheez Whiz, Hot Dogs and RF.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2016, 11:20:02 pm »
The other issue could be related to your public IP address. Unless you've got an expensive commercial DSL or cable account, your public IP would be assigned dynamically. Depending on your ISP, this could change every day, or never. (If you use DSL or satellite, it's likely to be changing every couple of days.)

That's interesting. In AU many ISP's will give you a static IP by default. I know TPG Internet include static IPs on all their plans. Others will charge a small fee (Internode for example charge an extra $10 per month for a static IPv4 address, subdomain address and increased shaping speed).
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 11:21:41 pm by Halcyon »
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2016, 11:22:18 pm »
I was under the impression that these Ring units actually did live streaming when someone rings the doorbell; that is, the audio/video isn't actually uploaded to the company's servers. Instead, when someone rings the doorbell, the unit would make a request to the server with its unique ID; the server then sends a push notification to your phone. When you open the app, it contacts Ring's server, which sends back your home IP address and port. The app then connects directly to the Ring device which live streams video and/or audio. (However, I could see a single snapshot being uploaded to the company's servers, which is then included in the initial push notification or something.)

I don't think that's how it works. It does do "live" streaming, but it's entirely via the company's cloud server. That's another thing with the Ring device: you need around 5 Mbps upload to your Internet provider and a WiFi signal strength of greater than around -50 dBm to stream. If your Internet uplink or WiFi connection isn't up to it, you get pixelated video that starts and stops and stuttering audio, or nothing at all (black screen). Even when it does work, it's often 10-15 seconds before the streaming starts, and by then the person who rang the bell or set off the motion detector is gone.

Quote
Anyway, in order for the app to be able to connect to the Ring device on your local network, it has to be able to open ports to the outside world, which is what EwePnP and Nat Pimp do. (Think of it as DHCP for ports.) So, if the device isn't refreshing the port lease, it could cause this issue.

I'll look into this.

Quote
The other issue could be related to your public IP address. Unless you've got an expensive commercial DSL or cable account, your public IP would be assigned dynamically. Depending on your ISP, this could change every day, or never. (If you use DSL or satellite, it's likely to be changing every couple of days.)

My Internet addresses are static IP addresses.
 

Offline timb

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2016, 12:02:19 am »
I don't think that's how it works. It does do "live" streaming, but it's entirely via the company's cloud server. That's another thing with the Ring device: you need around 5 Mbps upload to your Internet provider and a WiFi signal strength of greater than around -50 dBm to stream. If your Internet uplink or WiFi connection isn't up to it, you get pixelated video that starts and stops and stuttering audio, or nothing at all (black screen). Even when it does work, it's often 10-15 seconds before the streaming starts, and by then the person who rang the bell or set off the motion detector is gone.

So, you're saying it goes like this:

Ring Device --> WiFi --> Internet --> Ring Server --> Internet --> LTE/WiFi --> Phone

Wow... I honestly can't even imagine anyone doing it that way... Can you imagine how much bandwidth they'd need to have for that? Plus, you're adding hundreds of milliseconds of latency to the streaming! It would make much, much more sense to stream straight from the device:

Ring Device --> WiFi --> Internet --> LTE/WiFi --> Phone

There is absolutely no reason this can't be done. All they have to do is keep track of your home IP and make sure the correct ports are open. This is stuff that we solved 10-15 years ago (think Skype or FaceTime, which use server assisted, peer to peer audio/video transmission protocols).

Then there's the use cases where you're actually at home, on the same WiFi:

Ring Device --> WiFi --> Phone

Also, it needs 5Mbps upload to work reliably? In 2016?! That's insane! I mean, I can do a crystal clear FaceTime call with only 1Mbps upload... Haven't they ever heard of adaptive h.264?

Sorry, I'm ranting now... It sounds like a really shitty system. You could do much better with a Raspberry Pi + Camera and the Boxcar app on your phone for notifications. Just set the Pi up to stream h.264 video via http and use some motion detection software (plus a physical button hooked to a GPIO) to send you a notification via Boxcar.

I set up that very system about a year ago at my parents place. They live in a very rural area and wanted to get notifications when UPS left a package or something. They've got two of those large plastic chests (like you keep garden tools and stuff in) at the house end of the driveway, next to the mailbox. One for incoming packages and one for outgoing. So I put the Pi and camera in a large weatherproof enclosure and mounted it on a pole between the two chests.

When it detects motion, it waits 1 second, takes a snapshot and sends a popup notification to their phones via Boxcar. They get the alert within 5 seconds normally. They can then monitor the video in real time from their web browser (using DynDNS.com and NAT-PMP). If someone pushes the intercom button, the Pi actually makes a real *phone call* to their phones (through a very inexpensive VoIP provider).

This setup isn't far from a motorized gate, so I originally tapped power from that (and used WiFi). However, a few months back they had to run a new power wire to it, so I had him run CAT5 as well. Now the setup is hard wired and uses PoE.

Anyway, if you want any help setting a Pi up like that, let me know. It took me a weekend to get working (from scratch) and cost less than $100!
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Offline C

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2016, 12:14:18 am »
My Internet addresses are static IP addresses.
With a static IP address, Sounds like making something simple into a big problem.


In a lot of cases Upnp is not needed.

STUN
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STUN
"STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) is a standardized set of methods and a network protocol to allow an end host to discover its public IP address if it is located behind a NAT. It is used to permit NAT traversal for applications of real-time voice, video, messaging, and other interactive IP communications."

Traversal Using Relays around NAT
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traversal_Using_Relays_around_NAT

 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2016, 01:18:09 am »
Does this sound reasonable to anyone?
No!

No one in their right mind would design a product which is intended to be permenantly connected to a network, that fails every time a network issue is encountered.

Absolutely agree.
 

Offline timb

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2016, 01:44:53 pm »
My Internet addresses are static IP addresses.
With a static IP address, Sounds like making something simple into a big problem.


In a lot of cases Upnp is not needed.

STUN
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STUN
"STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) is a standardized set of methods and a network protocol to allow an end host to discover its public IP address if it is located behind a NAT. It is used to permit NAT traversal for applications of real-time voice, video, messaging, and other interactive IP communications."

Traversal Using Relays around NAT
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traversal_Using_Relays_around_NAT

It doesn't matter if your public IP is static or dynamic; you still have to use UPnP or NAT-PMP for outside devices to traverse the local NAT layer (short of manually forwarding the ports). STUN is basically a way for devices on a local NAT'd network to find their public IP; whether that IP is assigned dynamically or statically is wholly irrelevant. (However, most devices or applications will query a server--usually via an http request--which responds back with the public IP. That's a fast, simple and usually foolproof way to do it.)

That said, a lot of ISPs have become somewhat devious, in that the "public" address assigned to your router/modem is actually a private address inside your ISP's own NAT layer. The end result is a double NAT situation, which can cause no end of trouble. (They do this because they have more customers than IPs available to them. We've long since run out of IPv4 space and the transition to IPv6 is slow, to put it mildly.)
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; e.g., Cheez Whiz, Hot Dogs and RF.
 

Online Jeroen3

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2016, 02:00:07 pm »
I've called Ring tech support twice about this problem and both times they've told me that whenever the device looses its connection to WiFi it's necessary to delete the device and re-add it using the app. This sounds like complete bullshit to me. I have several other WiFi capable devices (phone, Kindle, iPad) and none of these devices require me to reset the WiFi network info if my WiFi router resets or if I go outside the range of the network.
Yes that would be normal behavior for poor firmware (possibly on both sides of the link) that does not follow IEEE standards.
Printers are also very capable of this behavior. Sometimes it is fixed by not using the hybrid wpa/wpa2 mode but instead use the wpa2-aes mode required for IEEE 802.11n to work.

Carrier grade NAT is often used on cellular data. Unless you pay for an industrial uplink for PLC's.
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2016, 04:01:56 pm »
I finally spoke to a tech support supervisor and got a different take on the issue I've been having (device stops sending motion event notifications). According to him the device does attempt to reconnect to the network if the network has issues. According to him, the real problem is that the device, when idle, progressively goes into deeper and deeper sleep modes in an attempt to conserve battery power. So now, if something comes within range of the camera when it's in one of these deep sleep states, and goes out of range again before the device wakes up to check for motion, it will not see the motion and not send an alert.

There's an option in the smartphone app to specify "Light", "Standard", or "Frequent" motion sensitivity. The default is Standard, and this will cause the device to miss motion events after a certain period of no motion. Setting it to Frequent will cause it to wake up and check for motion more often, but even this mode will eventually reach a point where it starts to miss motion events. I set it to Frequent yesterday afternoon, and it did detect several events, but this morning when my wife and I drove past it in quick succession it detected nothing. Looks like I have to spend more time on the phone with this tech support supervisor. At least he has a clue, unlike his first level people.
 

Offline Delta

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2016, 04:13:55 pm »
A doorbell that requires a 5Mbit/s WiFi link in order to upload personal data to a server and inform you 20 seconds later that someone's at the door?

No. That does not sound reasonable to me!
 

Offline MK14

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Re: Is this reasonable?
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2016, 06:49:54 pm »
my wife and I drove past it in quick succession it detected nothing.

Which seems to be in very close agreement to the reviews, which say that it DOES NOT WORK PROPERLY!
They (many of the reviewers) have messed about with it, and come to the conclusion that it is a junk, non-working item, and have (hopefully) got their money back, and bought something that works.

tl;dr
"NO it is NOT reasonable!"

EDIT:
But I'm SORRY if I'm being TOO harsh.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 07:08:14 pm by MK14 »
 


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