Getting around lousy software

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I like HP's printers, but absolutely hate their software. Here's a list of problems I've had with them off the top of my head:

  • Software assumes you can connect to the printer at all times - if you're not, periodic episodes of 100% CPU utilization occurs. Disabling WIA (Image Acquisition Service) cured that problem.
  • Software periodically crashes for no particular reason, and when not using the software actively. I believe this is related to the "always connected" issue above.
  • Software works about 50% of the time when scanning.
  • Software is extremely slow to shutdown and sometimes refuses to do so
  • Software blue screens the machine
  • Software that likes to update itself but usually can't connect either due to firewalls (despite proper proxy config) or some other reason
  • Software allows copying data off a memory card inserted into the printer, but does not copy/set a create date on the files, which crashes lots of other applications
I haven't seen the last problem for a while, and a higher % of the issues I see seem to revolve around scanning functionality. I've been trying to document a way to consistently scan without spending an hour trying to do it, and I've finally found the way...avoid the software as much as possible. Here's my current method:
  1. Insert memory card into printer
  2. Scan document and send the scan to the memory card
  3. Copy the files from the memory card to the computer
  4. Use a "touch" utility to set the create date on the file to avoid the last problem above
As a software guy, this stuff probably bothers me more than most people. I can't imagine trying to work around all these issues if I were a normal person - I'd probably try to scan once or twice and then return the product. I understand the need for HP to ship early and ship often, but you need a complete product...not 75% of one (hardware and half-working software).


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