Plugwise makes a big mistake…

Plugwise is secretly uploading your data! I found out because my firewall was logging unusual Internet activity coming from the PC on which i had installed the Plugwise Source.

From the day i installed the Source software, that PC periodically contacted an IP address belonging to Plugwise. For what? During software activition and such i can understand that, but still after 7 days that PC was contacting plugwise.com? Time for some investigation.
So i installed Wireshark and let it collect all packets for some time. When i started analyzing those packets, i immediately saw what was happening. WTF is this?!?!? I still don’t get it, why do they do such a thing? do they think we’re stupid or what??? (and i still get angry, writing this)
I posted my findings to let other Plugwise users know what is happening so they could also take action and prevent usage data leaking out to Plugwise.

When a company has to choose between business profit and respecting customer privacy, what choice would be made?
Right, privacy loses. Again. I was very angry, when i found out that the Plugwise Source software periodically sends all the usage data it gathers, to a portal.plugwise.com server.
Really ALL the information that is collected by the Source software is sent to Plugwise; from all my Circles, for every hour, including switching schedules, groups, rooms, what type of devices are connected to the Circles etc. etc. Everything! This is absolutely unbelievable. But it’s true.

Plugwise is a very good system, it works perfect from the day i installed it. And i would like to expand it with at least 10 extra Circles, but my privacy is violated in a way that’s unacceptable.

I had a phonecall with a Plugwise representative some time ago. He talked about ‘everything according to the law’, ‘your usage data is safe and protected’, ‘our business model’.
Right, there we have it. Business model. Conclusion: our usage data is worth enough money for Plugwise to act as disrespectful as they do. And according to law? Who says so? Who checked that? Maybe it’s a good idea to have some real good experts look into that…

Plugwise will have to change their product, so users can opt-out and usage data is protected without having to use your own firewall.

I decided to give Plugwise some time to publicly explain what the goal of collecting all this usage data is and how they will deal with the complaints. No real answer has been given yet. The story continues…

No white Christmas

No white Christmas, but maybe ice skating?
Weather forecasts show temperatures below zero for the next couple of days, so many people are getting the ‘fever’ again and have gotten their ice skates from the attick and started preparing for skating on natural ice once again. Some people are already dreaming and mention the E-word already…

Our daughter gently reminded her grandfather that he once promised her to buy new ice skates for her when it looked like the ice would get thick enouigh to skate on. So they went to the shop and our daughter got a pair of new ice skates. Now all we can do is hope the weather forecasts are becoming reality 🙂

Plugwise integrated!

As expected, the Plugwise goodies arrived last Wednesday, December 3rd 2008. 13 Circles in total and ofcourse a Plug and the Source software. I had already written some code, so after i installed the Source software and plugged in a few Circles, i could start testing the interface between the Source and my HA application. It all worked as i expected, cause after some last small code modifications the interface worked.

The Plugwise Source includes a small web server that can be used to get information out of the Plugwise system in XML format and you can use it to switch the Circles by calling HTML pages.

Power usage

This is how the XML looks like that contains power usage data:

<items type=”array”>
  <item>
  <moduleid>Module[‘000D6F0000xxxxxx’]</moduleid>
  <datetime>5-12-2008 20:15</datetime>
  <device>Freezer</device>
  <powerusage>55,38</powerusage>
  <powertotal>0,198</powertotal>
  <powerstate>on</powerstate>
  <id>1</id>
 </item>
 …
 …

Well that can’t be hard to handle 🙂 As you can see, at the time this XML was retrieved from the Source web server, the Freezer was using 55,38 Watt, had a total usage of 0,198 kWh and the Circle was switched ‘on’. The same evening i could start collecting data on power consumption of 13 devices individually.

Switching the Circles

All there is to switching a Circle is calling a HTML page with some parameters, like this:

http://192.168.10.11:8080/cc.html?applid=1&cmd=off

This would switch off the freezer. Not a very smart example (switching off a Freezer i mean), but it works very well, and the Circles are fast, very fast! They switch instantly, with no real noticable delay! Compared to X10/A10 this is huge improvement.
What can i say about reliability after using Plugwise for nearly a week now? It’s really very reliable; untill now, all the circles do exactly what they have to do, without any sign of erronious behaviour whatsoever.

And with the dissecting of the Plugwise protocol going on here, i’ll eventually lose the Source and its web server as intermediate to the Plug and interface with the Plug all by myself 🙂

Plugwise is coming

After hesitating for quite some time whether or not i should buy the Plugwise system, i finally decided to do so. And tomorrow the Plugwise order will be delivered 🙂

The Plugwise system is a good addition to my current power usage monitoring; currently i only have an overall picture, but no appliance-specific information about power consumption. The Plugwise system will give me just that…

The Plugwise system will enable you to monitor power usage of single appliances by the use of so-called ‘Circles’. The complete system is made up of 4 components:

The Circle – a plug that goes between the plug of an appliance and the power socket.

The Stick – a USB device which is plugged into a PC and communicates with the Circles wirelessly (ZigBee). The Stick can also send ommands to the Circles to turn appliances on or off.

The Circle+ – a Circle which coordinates the Circles in the network, but can also do the things a normal Circle can.

The Source – software
that is install on a PC to callect all power usage data, produce charts, log it to a database, make power schedules, etc.

Much more inforation about Plugwise can be found here