Once upon I time I’d go down to the kitchen in the morning, turn on the radio, and listen to NHPR while making breakfast. Now I turn on a Logitech Squeezebox to do the same thing. But this morning it failed.
The list of things that could have gone wrong includes:
1. The box itself (hardware, firmware)
2. My Internet router
3. My cable modem
4. My ISP
5. The Internet fabric between my ISP and Logitech’s ISP
6. The Squeezebox service itself
I guess most people would just turn off the Squeezebox, wait a while, and turn it back on. Sometimes I wish I were one of those people. But being me I had to put on my detective hat and work through the checklist. After resetting the box to factory defaults, reconnecting to my local router, and verifying that my connections through the Internet fabric were otherwise OK, I was left with #6 and called Logitech support.
Sure enough, their servers are down. The ETA for a fix is 2-4 hours. It’s tempting to attribute this failure to the complexity of our modern systems. Like when guys bitch about how you used to be able to work on your own car, and now you can’t.
It’s true that the Squeezebox is more complex than the radio I used to have. And the Internet is more complex than the terrestrial radio I used to listen to. But that isn’t really the problem. Dependency on a single point of failure is the real culprit. And it’s worse than I thought:
Logitech leaves Squeezebox fans wondering what’s next
The Squeezebox platform is officially discontinued, but Logitech hasn’t told current owners what they should expect from now on.
In my review of the Logitech UE Smart Radio, there’s a single parenthetical line mentioning that the company is discontinuing the Squeezebox line of products. Incredibly, that’s more than Logitech has officially said on the matter, leaving the passionate fans of the Squeezebox platform wondering what’s going to happen to their network audio streamers.
The point of failure is not the box, or the Internet, but the Squeezebox service. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Squeezebox service is just a gateway to other services: Internet radio, Pandora. Those services are all up and running. The Squeezebox could have been built to be able to connect directly to them. But it wasn’t. So when the Squeezebox service is down the box is dead. And if Logitech discontinues the service, the box is not just mostly dead, it’s all dead.
I want my next Internet radio to work like my pre-Internet radio. If it really breaks then OK, that happens. But otherwise it keeps working. Some stations might not be reachable at some times. OK, that happens. But there’s no single point of failure in the fabric. That’s just lame.