For future HN context, as the author I'm reproducing them here in full:
My @Sony "smart" TV has updated itself and tried to force me to use a new app from https://samba.tv and boy oh boy... this is worse than recent @facebook stuff.
This information is then used to market to you within the TV and offer you a "hot list"... but it is also used to "Detect, investigate and prevent fraudulent transactions and other illegal activities and protect the rights, safety and property of Samba and others"
If you have a "Smart TV" from any brand and it's doing an update you will 100% want to disable Samba.
Samba is not a feature for you, it is a snitch in your living room, snitching on everything you watch on your TV, it's a feature for corporations only.
To disable Samba the soft way... don't agree to their T&Cs post OS upgrade.
To disable Samba the hard way... use Android system settings to disable the app.
This is a good time to say that if you own a "Smart TV" from any company you should run it on a different network than your NAS and other computers. And that all other devices best require passwords to connect to them.
Ideally you run a TV on a different VLAN.
And this is where I wish that dumb panels were all the rage, and that the only "smart" functionality was external to the display itself. But when @netflix and other content providers decline the use of their apps outside of integrated devices this is the hell we live in.
I really wish that @Google provided a TV box that was the full Android TV, but that was vanilla Google with the ability to install @netflix, @BBCiPlayer, @mubi as apps. That I could just plug this into any display panel, including dumb displays.
Perhaps @Google could even call it Pixel TV.
I actually trust stock Android over Samsung, Sony, etc Android. Hence my "if we're going to have Android TV perhaps Google could supply it without the forced add-ons". I see this similar to installing Windows yourself rather than having "Windows with added vendor crap"... like if you know you want Windows, a stock one is better and same with Android.
I'm now looking at purchasing the Nvidia Shield and disabling all network connectivity on my Sony TV.
The Sony TV is a recent one, about a year old. A Bravia something or other. I have disabled the Samba app using the Android Apps system.
One thing I didn't include in the tweets was Samba's patent list, because it's too deep a topic for Twitter. The patent numbers are on their site though... go take a look: https://samba.tv/legal/patents/ Some of those are downright scary and have no positive application for privacy conscious users.
Feel free to ask anything.
So I'm selfishly asking if you could look up the version number of yours, so that I can identify mine and avoid updating it?
The apps with rich capabilities are restricted to the platform.
Android is the one with them all.
(caveat on Amazon vs Google stupidity)
If it's doing some kind of "always scan WiFi in the background" shenanigans then it's still a computer slowly going out of date without security updates and occasionally exposing itself to the local area.
I wish I could take a "smart" TV and flip a switch and have it gracefully fall back to "dumb" TV where the Android device is physically disabled.
Chromecast is basically a smart TV on a stick, controlled with a remote from smartphone (and partly, even the remote control of the TV). You can run a Chromecast wired as well. Same with Steam Link. It can run over wireless or wired.
I find on all of these wired far more reliable, and I keep more bandwidth for my wireless applications. Even my printer is wired. Then again, I got a 8 port gbit switch for connectivity and barely any wires visible.
The caveat is that my smart devices, although wired, are currently NOT on a VLAN, and that Chromecast is a data resource for Google, and as I mentioned the EPG data on the TV contains commercials. Instead of the Steam Link I could even just run a HDMI cable straight from computer. I can also plug in a Bluetooth USB adapter on my USB hub to listen via Bluetooth on the couch to the TV.
Other than that, its a great TV for its price. Make sure your TV has enough HDMI ports. You might also wanna have a look at Chromecast alternatives such as Miracast devices or Amazon Fire Stick (the ethernet adapter came free with Chromecast Ultra but for the other Chromecasts it costs 20 EUR extra).
Edit: mainly cause they'd stopped working years ago...
I realize it's a bad solution, but that might work…unless it's "smart" enough to realize it has no connection and try other networks regardless…
How do I even turn off location services without breaking Android Device Manager?
I have location history off but I still get notifications from maps that say things like "X place you're at is popular, click here to see reviews or something"
1. You don't need to use Android Device Manager. Unlike iOS, Android gives you a choice of device finders.
2. Location services is different from location history. Location services is an AGPS service that does not track anything tied to your account. iOS does the same thing, and worse, used to send your location to a third party AGPS provider (Skyhook).
3. Google Maps is separate from location history. Google Maps on iOS will tell you to see reviews as well, and it is a setting in both. Unlike on iOS, on Android, you have a choice not to use the default maps application at all and instead use an entirely offline map.
The above three points when support my initial claim that Android is a better privacy-focused system than iOS.
If you turned off wifi so you think that would help?
The only device that requires a SIM is an iPhone for obvious reasons.
And, sure enough, the libraries have gone downhill while the prices have gone up, and my money seems to just be going to lawyers and technology to ever-more lock things down, while content is balkanized to maximize what I've come to consider rent-seeking.
I'm not interested in a "smart TV". I want good hardware with a lot of hardware connectivity -- preferably open connectivity, but that ship has already sailed in good part. Nonetheless, connectivity I set up and control.
If I'm going to stream, it's going to be out of a separate box, that I can segregate and replace when it's warranted.
If I can get off my duff and do it, it's time for me to stop paying for streaming content and put the money instead towards purchases where I end up with a physical copy, more or less in perpetuity. If, because the media degrade or the playback devices abandon functionality or get more locked down, the lifespan of what I've purchased is limited, I no longer have any qualms -- other than "lead pipe" law enforcement -- about breaking protections and making a sustainable copy.
I feel like a sucker for having put my money into a system that perpetuates these schemes, for too long.
Time to hit eBay for those boxes of DVD's I've heard about, before everyone else catches on and they dry up.
My parents have a somewhat older "smart TV" -- Samsung. Recently, it received an OS update. The UI responsiveness did pick up -- it was halfway abysmal, before. But the picture quality took a major hit. (I'll let Dad fuss with that, as is his wont, if he gets around to it. He doesn't use that TV much.)
This just reinforced for me, that you can't trust these updates nor the software on these things. If it works well as a display device, keep it unconnected and so "dumb" and just pipe stuff in over HDMI.
By the way, it was on a separate "friends" subnet that their wireless router provides. But performance seemed marginal, at times, so it ended up on an Ethernet cable. The router only has physical ports on the main subnet; there went that protection. Ironically, after the OS update, it defaulted to the wireless connection and seemed to perform significantly better with it. It got switched back to the Ethernet connection, but maybe they should undo that, now.
Really with all this stuff, it's coming down to the very basic... "truism", it's proving to be: If they can, they will.
It's up to us, individual users and consumers, to stop them. No one else is.
> Ideally you run a TV on a different VLAN.
Why don't you go with a pi instead of a shield ?
Also 4K and H.265/HEVC video support
Samba.tv is... Something else. It has nothing to do with us.
(BTW, I do really appreciate all the work done on samba over the past few decades, so thanks!).
>"Infringement may occur when one party, the 'infringer', uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers"
this basically means that in order to have an infringement case, you need to show that both the name/brand/logo are confusingly similar, and also that the product/service/domain are close enough to each other. I don't know that "software" is a sufficiently narrow category to count.
(I'm imagining an a scenario in which an elderly version of myself becomes confused...
Me: "Honey, I think we should watch a movie over the samba!".
My elderly wife: "Did you mean the samba on the smart TV, or the samba on the PC?"
Me: Dag Nabbit!)
Admittedly, a few seconds of thinking made me realise they'd never do that... but it's easy to see why people are getting confused, which is EXACTLY where Trademark stuff comes in.
"Oooooh, some sort of media centre software based on samba? Count me in. Oh, wait ... :("
Without thinking about it I configured my current TV to join my wifi network. After it so kindly started putting ads on the screen while watching things I turned it off. A few months later, ads again. Somewhere in the bowels of the settings the wifi was reenabled, so I shut it off. A few months later, more ads. In a new place in the settings it was back on. Repeat a few more times.
Changed my wifi password and that took care of that.
Do they have a in-hardware or in-app purchase to remove the ads? <- That would be a horrible trend to start.
Then I started disabling my wifi and that kept magically re-enabling.
And that's the point I took the nuclear option.
Same experience as https://us.community.samsung.com/t5/TVs/Annoying-notificatio... but with a different notification.
I don't think I'll buy a Samsung TV again after that, and I don't connect any TV to the internet anymore.
I feel like you should mention that in your bio, it's not standard and breaks conversations. People should know that they should cite you if they want something to be preserved in conversations or when linking.
If people are worried about that they shouldn't be relying on a third-party (twitter) for record keeping.
So - why are you using Twitter at all if you want to delete stuff so quickly?
You sound the kind of chap who would much prefer their own platform. Heard of these things called "blogs"?
Aaaaand it went away.
Walled gardens are always going to be a massive vulnerability for link rot.
I haven't bothered to examine how it works, but if you can do that and you have a disaster recovery plan that replicates your entire output to a different service (e.g. GitHub Pages) while retaining the link structure, then perhaps Medium is now superior to Posterous's original offering.
The last time I googled it they had it discontinued this option.
Cool URIs don't change and all that... Thank heavens for the Internet Archive.
In any case, if Twitter allows posy deletion, then it's standard. You may consider deleting bad form, but that's just another case of someone's perception of a platform not matching reality.
The internet makes it hard to definitively remove something, but a large percentage has already been lost to churn and bit rot due to lack of care.
I purge content from my law firm website all the time.
I completely trash and start over my personal website every few years, too, and I've never kept anything in a purge. I have personal archives of it, and the various archiving sites have been snapshotting my stuff since 1999, so, meh, if anyone wants to find my old work product, there's a way, without me having to archive it all for the whole world for all eternity.
Sometimes it's nice to start over.
I like to purge my real life too. De-cluttering is fun. My zen would be to have nothing left.
Regarding link rot, the walled garden comment above/below is spot on. When you're dealing with a bunch of walled gardens, link rot is so far unavoidable.
> But when @netflix and other content providers decline the use of their apps outside of integrated devices this is the hell we live in.
I don't understand. I can just open a web browser on a little media center PC, connect it by HDMI, point it to Netflix and play a movie, right? (Admittedly I haven't tried because our Panasonic has Netflix and no ads or spy apps that I've noticed)
But what exactly does Netflix forbid that @buro9 is referring to? And does anyone know what their reasoning is for doing so?
I ask because I'm rather interested in the concept of buying a dumb TV once this one breaks (hopefully long from now), but I do like me my Netflix. Lots of people in this thread suggest buying a dumb TV but I don't understand why Netflix and friends would disallow customers using that.
The result is that the higher quality content is only available on apps on closed platforms.
So if you got a dumb panel and wanted high definition content, you'd still need to hook up something like the Nvidia Shield... essentially a closed platform (Android again in this instance).
1080p is by far "good enough" to watch anything on TV, IMO.
I re-watched a couple of episodes of "Friends" recently (apparently the series is now available on Netflix) at a couple of friends' house, on a huge tv set, and I had a totally different experience compared to what I remembered from last watching the episodes ~15 years ago because I could only focus on looking at the actresses' faces, asking myself: "Did Monica's face really looked like that? Did Phoebe's?". I'll stick with 1080 or even with 780 from now on.
Fortunately I'm the opposite of a videophile - I don't even know how High the Definition of our TV is. But I see your point, so indeed, a 4k dumb TV won't be able to show most Netflix content in 4k, correct? That's a major shame and pretty ridiculous.
edit: I just noticed that Netflix actually supports UHD on the Windows 10 app and on Microsoft Edge. So running Windows on the media center PC appears to be a practical option.
Still a closed platform :)
It's the DRM problem. They insist on these limitations as an anti-piracy measure. Fundamentally the only way to decode 4k in real time is to pass it fairly-unmodified to the video hardware, and at that point in a non-closed system a driver could steal it. Or just record it off the screen from the inside.
Sure, but not a smart TV and that's the part I personally care the most about. I doubt Microsoft, even with all their telemetry nonsense, will ever include something as ridiculous as samba.tv. Also, they employ more than 0 UI designers.
Thanks for the explanation btw. So it's basically the 4k video version of copy-protected CD's. And that was a great idea that totally worked!
Microsoft Store -> "..." button -> My Library.
Is there even such a thing ? Honest question, because i looked for a "dumb" 4K with HDR10 support TV and i haven't found anything.
I had it running on my second monitor as background noise while I was working on a project
Every time I'd use Alt+Tab, the entire window would go black. Presumably as part of its inane DRM
Unfortunately, the only way to get it to work again was to close and relaunch the entire app!
Which the insane video card prices recently getting 4K output is an expensive issue.
Samba have patents for how to communicate and track across the boundaries of security sandboxes for example.
Whereas Netflix on my Android that has NetGuard really is just talking to netflix.com and apparently not doing anything else bad.
I have zero expectations that an app won't track in-app use for that app... but Samba is (with the consent of the hardware provider who owns the local instance of Android) tracking everything it can across apps.
If you used a DVI cable you could indeed do that. But HDMI was pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed despite no real benefit (having sound and video separate is an ADVANTAGE if you want to easily handle sound with different hardware..)
and now, well, you can't.
The number of people with dedicated audio equipment is too great for any TV manufacturer to break this.
I'm specifying hardware too because of HDCP - you can't just connect it to some random monitor because it might not support 'DRM for monitors'.
...you should turn that crap off and replace it with a Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, or anything else external. The Amazon app on our Vizio was so out of date that it literally couldn't connect to Amazon's API. Later updates fixed Amazon but enabled some flat-out 1984 level spying: https://consumerist.com/2015/11/09/vizio-smart-tvs-are-watch... . That's when I hard reset the TV, banned its MAC from our Wi-Fi, and started treating it exclusively as a dumb display for other devices.
Under no circumstances would I give any smart TV Internet access. It's not that I have great trust for any of the settop box manufacturers (although Apple's been doing a great job here), but I actively distrust all TV manufacturers.
Just from a couple months ago: "And that’s where streaming TV company Roku comes in. Today, the company is introducing a new measurement suite called Roku Ad Insights that lets brands and agencies measure how effective their marketing is on OTT in four ways."
You really should assume that any app you run on any device is gathering data about what you are doing. Could be used in house and/or sold to third parties.
I totally agree, though my only exception is for Roku TV devices. They're essentially a flat-panel LCD with a Roku permanently stuck in the case with software that supports different inputs as "apps." I've been doing some packet sniffing and, so far as I can see, my TCL Roku TV doesn't do anything different on the wire that my Roku Premiere does.
Preferably, no one would ever purchase a smart TV. When smart TV sales go to zero, the makers would get the message.
Sadly, too many folks don't know, or if they do know, they don't care.
I couldn't find a non-smart TV. They are everywhere. If you want the 4k, then you have a smart TV.
The best alternatives were super large monitors (way over the price of a TV, and with no decent sound built in), or corporate display panels (for advertising, signage, etc) whose prices are also way above a TV and include no sound system at all.
I wonder how big the market is for "dumb" TVs priced lower than smart ones --- given that the development costs, if any, for one would be much lower since you're basically just asking an OEM to combine existing parts (panels and electrics), perhaps it could be a startup opportunity to sell "the TV you watch" --- essentially big monitors with speakers and tuners and nothing else. Some things they could advertise:
- absolutely no data collection
- zero boot-up time
- near-instant control response
- no software requiring constant upgrades or maintenance
Nevertheless, a dumb TV marketing to me like that evokes an immediate "take my money!" response.
The boot time is something that has irked me forever, and it seems the culprit is the HDMI protocol itself, so that wouldn't be improved either.
Or, hmmm... How about simply not buying that 4k if it is "smart".
The only feedback channel you have to the makers about your displeasure over the TV offerings is to simply not buy one.
They listen to nothing else. If the unit sells, they don't care about any other expressed dislikes (it sold, after-all). If the unit does not sell, and none of the units sell, only then do they listen.
But as I said at the outset, too few folks care enough to make a dent in their sales figures. So those of us who do care are left with simply not buying a new TV.
Consumer projectors have built-in sound but you'll still want to hook up surround sound. And if you care about hi-res that much, you'll want it on a nice big screen where you can see the difference. I project onto a 100" screen.
There a plenty of dumb 4K Blaupunkt TVs sold in Germany pretty much everywhere.
Specific models I don't know by heart.
Exactly. A commercial display / signage display is indeed what you need to buy if you want a "dumb" TV.
Not only are they as dumb as dumb gets but they are highly reliable and usually fairly rugged.
Many of them have an expansion card slot which allows you to change the inputs - you could remove your 2x HDMI card and insert an SCART card instead, for instance.
Finally, if you get a video wall model, you'll get near-zero bezel.
They're not that expensive - how could they be if they are being purchased twelve at a time for display walls ? Yes, they are more than $399 + mail-in rebate from Frys.
It's worth it.
I also haven't been able to find a decent non-smart tv to no avail :(
Have you monitored it's network activity?
If not, how can you be certain the "disable menu" was not actually a placebo?
Prices, though, are usually higher than TVs.
Might be worth finding the network chips and disconnecting or breaking them off.
From various places online, you can buy "scaler" boards that take HDMI/VGA/etc. to whatever interface the panel uses (LVDS is common), i.e. they comprise essentially all the electronics inside a standard non-smart monitor. They are intended for laptop display conversions but can drive much bigger displays too, as long as the interface is the same. That might be an alternative to buying a much more expensive "dumb TV", i.e. buy a smart TV and "dumb it down" yourself!
For example, this particular one is configured for an iPad's display but the sellers usually have other configurations available:
Generally most modern TVs are gonna have a power supply, a main logic board, a display driver board and maybe another control board for stuff like backlights or sound. The logic board is basically gonna be an embedded mini computer running a full embedded OS that orchestrates the UI/smart features, decoding the inputs and generating the control signals for the panel driver. This will all be highly integrated on a single board, probably with almost all of the functionality in one or two main chips. Point being, you can't just yank out the smart stuff and still have a functioning TV. It'd be a bit like trying to remove a feature from a computer motherboard.
The ideal way to go about it would be to write your own firmware for the chips, but that's a practical impossibility because almost always there's no data publicly available on the chips or the other parts like the panel. You might also be able to get something working if the actual panel uses a standard interface, but it'll be a ton of work.
There aren't that many teardowns of televisions online that I can find, but this article has some to give you an idea.
Now you're getting me paranoid.
I plug my TV into Ethernet to update it and disconnect it immediately.
Disregarding the fucking awful campaign against them because some 3rd party developers make piracy-focused add-ons, as someone who never owned a smart TV, Kodi seems pretty feature-compatible.
I could be totally off though.
The only thing to gain from "smart tvs" are apps that can be controlled w/ the TV remote, if you're privacy coincious, you should know by now that it will take a bit of effort to secure your data.
Not much of a solution since it will never happen. The best TV's are "smart", and people like nice things, myself included. You're much better of simply never connecting them to the internet. They get the same message and you don't limit yourself to a small set of poor options.
If by "they" you mean the manufacturers, no they don't get the "same message".
The message they (makers) got was: "A smart TV sold". They interpret that to mean "purchaser wanted a smart TV".
The makers are not tracking that statistic (number of units sold that were not connected to the internet). They don't care if you connect it to the internet or not. Anything that happens after the initial sale (beyond returns and warranty repairs) is simply irrelevant to them, because there is zero income stream (unless they are charging an 'upgrade fee' later for something).
They care only about that initial sale. The only feedback channel they listen to is "units sold".
But too many people are addicted to the upgrade cycle and as a result not enough will simply turn away and say "no thanks, I'll stick with my dumb TV" (or go hunt down those few dumb TV's that still exist, so the sales numbers shift to dumb TV's).
That is absolutely wrong. They are making money off of the data; of course they care! That's the whole point!
Ok, snark aside, what if the makers of Smart TVs call them "platforms," and they get a subsidy for bundling apps, and maybe even a revenue stream from people who sign up for things like Netflix through the TV?
Again, they will be able to make a cheaper TV if there's more money in apps than margin on hardware.
This is analogous to the situation with phones. For most companies, there's more money in the telecommunications service than in the hardware margin, so most phones are subsidized by the service providers.
So-called television is going there: It's just a platform for advertising, tracking, and services that generate revenue on subscription. This is going to relentlessly drive hardware margins deep into the negative, which makes it impossible to sell a "dumb" display for a reasonable price.
I fully expect that it won't be long before leaving a smart TV unconnected to the internet won't be an option: They won't work unless they can phone home.
Samsung's partners don't want you hooking a 4K TV up to an AppleTV and routing around their platform in favour of Apple's app store, not if you bought that TV at a discount thanks to their subsidies.
You can bet Sony didn't put this app on the TV because they wanted to give consumers an improved experience for free out of the goodness of their hearts.
If most people prefer the TV with 'more features' then they'll take it. The savings of using a dumb TV are probably not a lot, I'd ballpark it at $50.
How many consumers are going to think "$50 dollars more to get netflix straigt on my TV? Great!".
Besides, that $50 advantage could well be lost in the smaller scale costs.
did you know that when you purchase an ebook using kindle software amazon knows exactly what page you've read to and how long you've stayed on each page. They also know exactly what books you have purchased.
Did you know that whenever you use a smart tv app that every time you "hover" over a tv show an event is logged that you hovered over it? Same with every click and every time you rent a movie.
This all seems pretty scary but these services could not function without this information.
I don't consider my Kindle Paperwhite as an always-on tracking-my-reading device, I consider it as an e-ink screen that I can transfer my books to via USB.
I still buy books from Amazon, but that's because I know how to de-DRM them, which is something I don't know how to do with books from... for example, Microsoft Store, or Google Play Books.
I don't own a smart TV because I don't need a TV at all, I need a screen to plug an HDMI cable into.
I don't own Alexa / Google Home because fuck that.
I've refused to own a smartphone until August 2016.
That's why i always purchase ebooks with my Laptop, then use Calibre + DeDrm plugin to send the ebook to my Kindle through usb. Also, my kindle is ALWAYS in airplain mode and has never been connected to any wifi.
It's so sad we are forced to do these things, and most people probably don't even realise they are being spied on and have their info/profile sold...
By the way, i hope my Pi-hole blocks all the smarttv trackers... but i'm not sure.
Why does Kindle NEED to know how long I've stayed on each page?
Why does a smart TV NEED to store hover events in a persistent DB?
It doesn't, but every page turn event has a time stamp. Using that info it's pretty easy to know how long someone has been on a page.
>Why does a smart TV NEED to store hover events in a persistent DB?
When the company is doing AB testing to decide on the optimal page layout this information is important.
Learned my lesson a few years ago when my 3,000+ Samsung tv decided one day they were going to spam advertisements for GameStop in the notifications. Of course they deny that ever happened but I have proof on my twitter. Too lazy to look it up right now though.
The tv's never been updated since I bought it, never configured wifi and there isn't any open wifi around for it to try to connect to.
Smart tv's aren't smart enough to come with their own internet connection... yet. God I hope they don't put something like cellular connections in these things, then I'd have to find the damn radio and desolder the antennae.
Why though? If you're concerned about privacy and freedom (as you should well be) then why jump out of the fire into the frying pan? Grab a dumb TV, grab a small form-factor PC (like an RPi) and install whatever you want on it (kodi, etc.)
By opting out of our service, we will no longer collect your TV viewing information, and our functionality we’ve built to enhance your TV experience – like content recommendations – will be disabled.
We believe there is a need for more guidance to discover new shows or be notified when a new season of your favorite shows come out. We also believe there is a need for better insights to guide the media industry, which is stuck with an antiquated system of measuring TV broadcasts. Our apps may not be for everyone, so when you disable Samba TV, your viewership data is not used in our media research or ad targeting offerings.
As far as advertising, we like the privacy model Apple has for iOS: If you want to continue using the functionality, but prefer your data not be used for advertising, you may reset your advertising ID and/or choose to limit ad tracking at any time through your TV settings. Your Samba TV advertising ID is a device ID used to serve targeted ads. By resetting this advertising ID, we will remove the link between your Samba TV advertising profile and the content you previously watched, so interest-based advertisements will not be served based on such content. Limiting ad tracking will opt your Samba TV Advertising ID out of receiving targeted advertising based on your TV usage.
If nothing else my SEWER VLAN has a very strange view of DNS (thanks pfBlocker) and a rather limited view of the internet as a whole.
Squid docs on Bump etc: https://wiki.squid-cache.org/Features/SslPeekAndSplice
Do you mean Chromecast? You can just plug it into your TV's hdmi port and use netflix/youtube/twitch/mubi android apps to control your streams on TV.
Now I know the Shield exists that's what I'll be doing.
Serious question: so what? Lots of things don’t benefit me. Lots of things benefit corporations only. Why am I supposed to get outraged by this?
In what way do they force you to use it?
Could you not simply turn off WiFi on your smart TV and use an external device anyway?
There was also the Nexus Q a while ago but that was before Android TV and also a massive failure.
2. I can not fathom why anyone would connect their "smart" TV to the network at all.