Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bug Cloud

Bug In Fire TV Screensaver Tears Through 250 GB Data Cap 349

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the should-have-stuck-to-xscreensaver dept.
jfruh (300774) writes Tech writer Tyler Hayes had never come close to hitting the 250 GB monthly bandwidth cap imposed by Cox Cable — until suddenly he was blowing right through it, eating up almost 80 GB a day. Using the Mac network utility little snitch, he eventually tracked down the culprit: a screensaver on his new Kindle Fire TV. A bug in the mosaic screensaver caused downloaded images to remain uncached.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bug In Fire TV Screensaver Tears Through 250 GB Data Cap

Comments Filter:
  • It's 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @09:35AM (#47367967)

    Why do we still have these antiquated data caps?

    Oh, that's right, greed.

    • Re:It's 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bondsbw (888959) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @09:40AM (#47368001)

      Why do we still have these antiquated data caps?

      Because we still have antiquated data lines and switches and whatnot that can only handle so much total bandwidth.

      I don't care for caps either, but if they protect my paid-for bandwidth from abusers like Mr. Hayes (yes I know, it's not his fault, whatever it's still keeping me from streaming) then I'm ok with it to a degree.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RobertJ1729 (2640799)
        And why do we still have antiquated data lines and switches and whatnot when we are paying through the nose for internet access?
        • Re:It's 2014 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bondsbw (888959) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:01AM (#47368187)

          Because of greed.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Noah Haders (3621429)
          infrastructure's expensive.
          • Re:It's 2014 (Score:5, Informative)

            by e3m4n (947977) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:16AM (#47368309)

            you are already paying for this... SEVERAL times the goddamn major TELCO's lobbied congress for additional charges...

            FEDERAL SUBSCRIBER LINE fees
            UNIVERSAL SERVICES FUNDs
            FEDERAL ACCESS fees

            these all exist so the FCC can give ATT more money to build broadband to every home. Yes the USF predates the 1994 telecom act and later laws, but its constanty evolving. The FCC, right this minute, is considering USF charges on your internet connection as well.

            the telcos got government permission to bill you and everyone else extra BILLIONS to build out an infrastructure that was supposed to provide 50Mbps connections to the homes. Instead they rolled out DSL (at the time 1.5mbps x 256kbps) which was a technology they already had and pocketed the rest. To this day you are still being charged these extra fee's for a buildout that was declared 'completed' years ago.

            http://www.newnetworks.com/Sho... [newnetworks.com]

        • And why do we still have antiquated data lines and switches and whatnot when we are paying through the nose for internet access?

          Government bans competition. You can't very well expect an agency that claims a "natural monopoly" to not consider other "natural monopolies" both wise and judicious.

          Community fiber is still the answer - there are just so many hurdles that make it slow in coming.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Government bans competition. You can't very well expect an agency that claims a "natural monopoly" to not consider other "natural monopolies" both wise and judicious.

            Not true. Anyone can start an ISP as long as they are willing to pay for the infrastructure to deliver the last mile connection to their customers.

            Community fiber is still the answer - there are just so many hurdles that make it slow in coming.

            You just criticized both the government and lack of competition and your answer is to eliminate compe

            • No, last mile requires city hall approval. Tough luck getting approved by folks who don't know you and don't care.

              • Re:It's 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @12:06PM (#47369321)

                Do you speak from experience? I am and the real roadblock is cost and market inertia.

                If I wanted to invest a lot of money into fiber optics and spend the next 10 to 20 years recouping my capital investment I do not believe city hall would be my roadblock. I would need to convince my investors and bank that we could recoup our money and make a profit despite the established carriers using their size and mostly paid for infrastructure to undercut us.

                The reason that Comcast and others are offering higher bandwidths (without raising the cap) is not because of consumer demand but to defend their territory. It's hard to convince the bank that you will offer something not available elsewhere when they see commercials for "up to 150 mbps" offered at a price below what you would have to charge just to break even.

                The only way I would be able to even apply for a permit and pay the franchise fees is by making an insane amount of profit in an internet related venture and I wanted to spend some of the profits to have direct access to my customers (or users). This would not only allowed me to experiment with services that require high bandwidth but also provide good public relations stories to advertise in my other markets. You know like Google does. Also notice how many large cities compete for their next fiber deployment.

                • I would like to add that if I wanted to simply be an ISP, I could easily offer DSL and attach some value added service to it. There are a number of communication companies that advertise in my area that offer business communication solutions including DSL internet and PBX services. I'm sure the same can be said in other cities in the US.

            • by Rockoon (1252108)

              Not true. Anyone can start an ISP as long as they are willing to pay for the infrastructure to deliver the last mile connection to their customers.

              what country is this?

              This is almost universally not true in America. There might be extreely rural places where its true, but it sure as fuck isnt true where 99% of people live.

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                This is almost universally not true in America. There might be extreely rural places where its true, but it sure as fuck isnt true where 99% of people live.

                It is true where I live, and I don't live in some "extreely rural place". I don't know of a place where it isn't true. In those few places where it isn't true, it is because the idiots in the local government granted an exclusive franchise, which is a problem with the people who elected the local government, not the companies who took advantage of the exclusive franchise offer.

            • Re:It's 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @12:15PM (#47369385)

              Government bans competition. You can't very well expect an agency that claims a "natural monopoly" to not consider other "natural monopolies" both wise and judicious.

              Not true. Anyone can start an ISP as long as they are willing to pay for the infrastructure to deliver the last mile connection to their customers.

              And in instances where under-served areas tried to create their own municipal broadband network, the ISPs that weren't serving them sued to stop them or got their lobbied state officials to pass laws declaring that illegal.

              Community fiber is still the answer - there are just so many hurdles that make it slow in coming.

              You just criticized both the government and lack of competition and your answer is to eliminate competition and let the government run it?

              If a community isn't being served by an existing ISP, why is municipal broadband "eliminating competition"? If an area has an ISP but they are refusing to improve service, how is adding a municipal broadband option eliminating competition? Is the presence of the USPS eliminating competition from FedEx and UPS?

        • Re:It's 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @11:57AM (#47369237)

          And why do we still have antiquated data lines and switches and whatnot when we are paying through the nose for internet access?

          Because we are using the wrong payment model for internet access. It should be metered like virtually everything else. Then ISPs would have the incentive to strengthen their networks, since more capacity means more usage means more profit. Under the current model their maximum profit is made the instant you pay, before you use a single bit. It's backwards.

        • Re:It's 2014 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @12:11PM (#47369351)

          Because we have monopolies (or duopolies) in most regions of the US when it comes to ISPs. I have Time Warner Cable where I live. No FIOS or any other wired, high speed ISP. What incentive does Time Warner Cable have to improve their infrastructure when they can just raise my rates, give me the same service they've always given me, and make more money knowing I have no other choice?

      • He has cox cable and probably the same plan I do. Cox's view is if you are going over the 250GB cap then they will work with you to find out why if it's your legitimate usage they'll ask you to upgrade {or help you install their security package if it's virus related} but they don't charge overages. {if you don't upgrade and constantly go over the cap they will suspend your account}

        I have two rokus, two xboxes every tv streams media somehow and I have both netflix and hulu but only local stations on cable

        • by Krojack (575051)

          I would have to agree with you. 250GB/month is a lot.

          ~8.3GB/day or ~347MB/hour or ~520MB/hour for 16 hours assuming you sleep 8 hours a day.

          Your average Netflix 2 hour HD movie is about 1.6 to 1.8 gigs in size.

          Don't get me wrong, I think monthly data caps are crap and shouldn't exists.

          • I also purchase dvds, copy them off to my media server, and toss the disk in the closet... {about a thousand right now} I don't currently have them backed up since I had a hard drive failure so it will take me weeks to recopy all those dvds if I don't get a new back up before something happens.

            Many of my dvds are box sets of tv shows so the media server is almost stocked as well as netflix.

    • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @09:45AM (#47368059)

      Why do we still have these antiquated data caps?

      I would ask why we still have screen savers. Turning off the monitor automatically after a period of inactivity to save power I understand. Having it still draw power to put pretty images on the screen when you aren't using it is a pointless exercise. Screen burn-in is not a big problem these days, particularly if you have the monitor/tv turn off when not in active use.

      • by DarkOx (621550) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @09:50AM (#47368085) Journal

        Burn is a huge problem on plasma screens and there are still lots of those out there, there is NO WAY a set top box maker should be shipping something without a screen saver on by default!

        It would be nice if they had settings to turn it off if you wanted and maybe even send a CEC power off to the TV if you like, but at the very least set top boxes still MUST have a screen saver. Now in another 10 years when most of the plasma TVs have been put out to pasture, it will be a different story.

        • DPMS or whatever the HDMI equivalent would seem to make far more sense.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          It would be nice if they had settings to turn it off if you wanted and maybe even send a CEC power off to the TV if you like, but at the very least set top boxes still MUST have a screen saver.

          My TV turns off after 5 minutes of no input, this is a factory setting I can override. (disable, change timeout...) If the device can't be configured to turn itself off or vblank instead of screen saving then it's crap.

        • by Krojack (575051)

          AMOLED displays are notorious for burn-in (or burn-out to be exact). The blue pixels have a much shorter life span and when they get overused they burn-out. This causes a shadow effect one bright or white areas of the screen which looks like a burn-in.

          I had this happen with my Galaxy Note 2 and the game Ingress with the blue "OPs" button in the upper right corner. I was lucky to catch it early on. After a few days of not playing the game it faded away. Now when I play I will NOT keep the screen on at a

        • by geekmux (1040042)

          Burn is a huge problem on plasma screens and there are still lots of those out there, there is NO WAY a set top box maker should be shipping something without a screen saver on by default!

          It would be nice if they had settings to turn it off if you wanted and maybe even send a CEC power off to the TV if you like, but at the very least set top boxes still MUST have a screen saver. Now in another 10 years when most of the plasma TVs have been put out to pasture, it will be a different story.

          Yes, and other than marketing greed, there's not a single reason why said screen saver cannot be a black screen, or at most, random color washing built into the unit. No set top box needs to download HD images, especially in GB amounts that threaten bandwidth caps. Marketing bullshit at it's finest. We should learn to enjoy it, since marketing-subsidized hardware is the setup de jour these days. You don't get to buy the $300 leave-me-alone hardware option. You only get the $79.99 ads-for-life option.

      • This isn't a monitor, it's a TV. And burn-in is an issue if you have a plasma TV. I would almost argue it is worse than old CRTs. I find the problem happens when you're watching Netflix and the show ends and you are off doing something else or otherwise occupied while it sits at the menu on the Roku.

        Does HDMI allow the video source to tell the TV to turn off the display after inactivity? I guess the device can turn off. I think TVs tend not to do that though. Instead, they power up the display and put

        • You can't have burn in when it's a blank black screen. Turn off the video signal to the monitor and let the power saver mode kick in.
          • by nabsltd (1313397) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @11:13AM (#47368831)

            You can't have burn in when it's a blank black screen.

            LCDs use more power when displaying a completely black screen (since they have to charge the cell to have the crystals become non-transparent), and thus are more likely to get a dark image "stuck".

            Turn off the video signal to the monitor and let the power saver mode kick in.

            The problem is that a reasonable timeout that will provide you some sort of protection is way too short if the power to the display is truly being turned off. It takes my TV about 5 seconds to recognize that the video signal has come back, and it would be very painful if after two minutes (my screensaver timeouts on boxes I can configure) of pause, I have to hit some "do nothing" button to wake up the display so that I can then hit play and not miss anything.

            Also, if you have any of the auto-sensing video switches/receivers, it's a real pain when then source signal completely disappears, as the unit switches to the next input with a signal.

        • This isn't a monitor, it's a TV.

          A distinction without much of a difference these days. I can pipe my TiVO or my laptop through either a TV or a monitor with basically the same results and using the same HDMI cable. The screen resolution is identical (1920x1080) either way.

          And burn-in is an issue if you have a plasma TV

          Not if you turn it off when you aren't watching it.

          I find the problem happens when you're watching Netflix and the show ends and you are off doing something else

          Either you are watching Netflix or you are off doing something else. You cannot be doing both. If you are doing something else, turn the TV off if it cannot do it without you. Not seeing anything in your argument I

      • by sremick (91371)

        Burn-in is also a problem on OLED screens (having experienced it first-hand). As we see more and more of these, the issue will regrow.

        But I agree: auto power-off is preferable.

      • by DraugTheWhopper (3525837) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:47AM (#47368601)

        I would ask why we still have screen savers

        Although it isn't a hard-and-fast rule, screensavers nowadays are less about preventing burn-in and more about utilizing idle displays. For example, on a Linux-based machine, it's not unusual to have screensaver options that let you display the system load and uptime. Photo screensavers are another prime example. If I'm in my home office for an hour at a time, but only using the computer for 10 minutes, why not have my otherwise idle screen act as a large digital photo frame? You are correct in asserting that power consumption is an issue, but display technology has come a long way, so my 24" monitor draws much less power than my 19" CRT. Reducing power usage is a wonderful slogan, but modern society has a very poor grasp on exactly how much power their devices consume compared to their microwave, water heater, air conditioning, dusk-to-dawn lighting, and other amenities. It's great to hear that your cell-phone charger now reduces it's power consumption by 95% when not in use, but do you have any idea how that compares to an running your AC and heat an extra day each fall/spring, microwaving your pre-cooked meal every other night? /rant

      • by houghi (78078)

        I have never used a screensaver in my life. I either turned off the monitor, or I want to use it. I also never let it go out by itself, as I have a need to do nothing with a screen for a longer period, while still be able to see it. I do understand that others might be too lazy to turn off their screens when they leave for more than say 15 minutes, so the auto-off of the monitor might be good for some.

        The only places I have seen burned in screens is where a screensaver would be no good. e.g. data and callce

      • I would ask why we still have screen savers.

        Isn't it obvious? The devices outputting screensavers can't turn off the screen in most cases, that's why. And since they're the ones controlling the content, they're the ones best-suited to tell when burn-in might become an issue. Putting up a screensaver is effectively their only means of recourse.

        With HDMI cables carrying CEC commands (e.g. your TV telling your audio/video receiver to power on), it's possible this situation may change in the future. For now, however, not all devices support CEC (which, i

        • Isn't it obvious?

          No not really. Reliable power save capability should be a built in feature of every TV sold. In fact it should be a mandatory feature. This is the very definition of low hanging fruit when it comes to conservation of energy.

          The devices outputting screensavers can't turn off the screen in most cases, that's why.

          Sounds like a problem with the TV, not the device. I know some people (like me) have old TVs but there really is no excuse for any TV sold in the last 15 years to not have the ability to power off the screen. I understand what you are saying but I'm not terribly sympathetic to the "p

    • Re:It's 2014 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @09:49AM (#47368071)

      More to the point, its 2014 - do we have to have screensavers?
      The original reason for a screensaver was to prevent phosphor burn on the old monochrome CRT screens. They make no sense in this day of digital LED and LCD screens. These days the best screensaver is turn off the display, especially on mobile devices to save battery, but it would also be good for plugged in devices, tp save power (probably generated by burning some carbon containing fuel.

      • I've never ever had burn-in issues with my 19" Philips CRT bought in 2005. OTOH, I've had a pretty severe case of burn-in on a SGS2 AMOLED display, but the tech is much younger so it's not entirely unexpected.

      • why do we have mouse pads?
      • by e3m4n (947977)

        the roku screensaver is effective and simple.. its the word ROKU moving from spot to spot on the screen every 10 seconds or so. I see no reason to have anything more elaborate. A blank screen could be confusing when switching inputs and you want confirmation that its working without having to go find the damn remote.. seeing that floating ROKU tells me I switched over to that input, or it tells me my harmony remote is confused and i need to use its 'help' button to get it back in sync with the input the TV

    • Re:It's 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stealth_finger (1809752) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:23AM (#47368389)

      Why do we still have these antiquated data caps?

      Oh, that's right, greed.

      Why does a screensaver, on a TV no less, need the fucking internet?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Since no one else has answered: FireTV has two screensaver options. The first rotates through preloaded images. The second allows you to point to an online album and it will use your pictures. He is obviously using the latter, but for whatever reason Amazon has it redownload the pictures every time.

  • with several home appliances going IP. And this was just a bug, not a worm/virus.
  • I don't like caps. I don't think they should sell you bandwidth and than charge for data. I also understand the need for ISPs to over subscribe. Its simple economics most users are going to use very little of the bandwidth most of the time.

    I suspect a lot of throughput is consumed by malfunctioning stuff that dumbly makes the same requests over and over and things like this. Why can't the ISPs just kill the caps and let customers know in a not so threatening letter, "hey I think you have a problem Did

    • Or just provide a usage-over-time graph, so customers can see there's a large base-line usage when they're not even at home.

      I'm with Andrews & Arnold and I can see this usage data by logging into their Web site.

    • I don't think they should sell you bandwidth and than charge for data ... let customers know in a not so threatening letter, "hey I think you have a problem Did you know your port is lit up at 80%

      Actually if they were charging by-the-bit then such a thing would be almost certainly be standard and required. The 250GB cap is sort of a bastard step child of not-charging-by-the-bit and not-charging-for-bandwidth - perhaps the worst of both worlds.

      But, anyway, many ISP's have people with ports like that - they

      • And it's also astonishing that they didn't notice huge spikes on their end - does nobody buy these things?

        they just assumed usage was through the roof!

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        And it's also astonishing that they didn't notice huge spikes on their end - does nobody buy these things?

        That, or the ISP's caching proxy is dicking the pragmas

    • Re:Why can't (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:18AM (#47368331)

      When you grow up and buy a house, you're going to be shocked how other utilities work. They charge you for the capacity of your connection, then charge you for the amount of product you move through it. Water for example. My last house was around $62 to have the 1/2" connection. That's it. Just the potential to move water into my house. That cost went from about $35 for 1/4" to hundreds of dollars for larger pipes. Once I flushed a toilet, the usage meter started ticking and I paid $2.73 per 100 cubic feet of water. The usage rate was constant all the way from a 1/4" to 6" connection. That's how all the utilities were set up. A monthly fee for the connection based on capacity, a per-unit cost for the amount delivered. And, if you have a water leak, they rarely give you a warning. They just send a bill.

      Cable and internet are the oddballs that charge a flat "connection" rate with no metered usage. That works for cable TV but not so much for internet which functions more like water or electricity. Trouble with internet is they'll cut you off for using "too much" of their product but don't give you a way to purchase more of it. I wouldn't mind the caps so much if they'd give an accurate measure of usage and the option to purchase additional product at $10 per hundred gigs or so. That seems reasonableish to me. But they don't want you paying for the product that you use. They want you paying for product that you don't use.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by hab136 (30884)

        Bandwidth isn't like water or electricity. You either use it in the moment or don't. You can't save it for later.

        Not using bandwidth at 3am doesn't help the traffic jam at peak time (6pm). ISPs have to build enough infrastructure to handle peak times - they have to have larger pipes - but it doesn't actually matter how much bandwidth you use except for peak times. There's no good reason to meter traffic during non-peak times.

        I'm not saying metering is a good idea - as I understand it, simply increasing

        • Re:Why can't (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:54AM (#47368667)

          Bandwidth isn't like water or electricity. You either use it in the moment or don't. You can't save it for later.

          So, you don't have caches in your world?

          It's really about data, not bandwidth. Just like your utilities connection is about water or electricity, not pipes or wires.

          In fact, that's what this *article* is about--the TV should've saved data for later, but didn't.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Bandwidth isn't like water or electricity. You either use it in the moment or don't. You can't save it for later.

          Who, normally saves either water or electricity? Sure water is tanked and heated locally, but if i turn the taps on, and the tank drains, it starts filling up again immediately. So my little water cache is little more than a buffer.

          Not using bandwidth at 3am doesn't help the traffic jam at peak time (6pm).

          And not using your hair drier at 3am doesn't help with the grid load at peak time either.

          Tha

      • Re:Why can't (Score:4, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @11:22AM (#47368895) Homepage

        Meter internet connections are available, it's just that ISPs choose not to offer them because they want to label their products UNLIMITED* for marketing reasons.

        One of the biggest issues is that you can't control your downstream usage - if someone picks a random IP address allocated to a home users and floods it with traffic their monthly usage will rocket, even though their router drops every packet. People who use P2P apps discover that even though they closed the app other clients keep trying to connect to them and send them UDP packets, sometimes at a quite terrific rate.

        * Limited.

    • by msauve (701917)

      Why can't the ISPs just kill the caps and let customers know in a not so threatening letter, "hey I think you have a problem Did you know your port is lit up at 80% capacity 24-7 if you do that's find but if not there is probably something really wrong on your network"

      Thanks for letting me know, but since there's no cap, I don't really care and it's not worth my time to figure out why and to fix it.

  • Once we're all paying "by the byte" for metered service, that is.

  • They always seem to focus on the wrong things. Content providers are so worried that someone might watch something they payed for once, more than once. Must you buy a DVD to do this. People accept that they can watch a dvd more than once but don't require the same for streaming services. Here is a unit that is supposed to cache content and it gets it wrong. Netflix and others account for 2/3 of our bandwidth at times. They(netflix) do offer some type of appliance that will locally cache things at our h

  • Little Snitch (Score:4, Informative)

    by mindstormpt (728974) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:51AM (#47368629) Homepage

    The summary is obviously wrong: Little Snitch, as a local traffic monitor, was only used to rule out his Mac being the culprit. He got to the Fire TV by trial and error.

  • You're surprised that Mosaic [wikipedia.org] doesn't run well on current hardware?
  • Fire is burning up your data. Har!

  • I am Mac stupid and I read up on Little Snitch to see if there's something in my world that would have helped.

    I use two tools that I would have gone to: TCPView and Microsoft Network Monitor (MNM), both free.

    TCPView is very simple and is really a GUI, more-informative, netstat. What it does is show the computer's current connections whether Listening or Established. It doesn't really show bandwidth per connection, but it certainly answers the question, "What the heck is my computer doing when it's supposed

  • Sounds like something that could be developed into a nasty DDOS tool
    //ham and egger, don't know if that is actually possible or not...

An optimist believes we live in the best world possible; a pessimist fears this is true.

Working...