Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Spyware: Hewlett-Packard and the HP 1012

Spyware is everywhere. Sure it's a part of various scams, but it shows up in commercial software as well.

I bought an HP LaserJet 1012 for my 75 yo mother. She's been frustrated with cheap inkjet printers that never work for her (she prints so infrequently the cartridges clog or expire); I wanted something I could setup and forget about. The LJ1012 costs $175 to $200 or so, is utterly quiet and pretty compact, has a flat paper tray, is quite simple, and ought to do the trick for the next 5-10 years. So far, I'm pleased.

But it does include spyware. The driver installation installs a "reminder" utility on the sly. It pops up every two weeks and recommends buying printer supplies. True, it comes with an uninstaller and one can turn off the reminders without uninstalling, but it is fundamentally marketing software installed without my awareness that provides me no benefit. By some definitions, that's spyware.

It's hard to resist such the temptations that the act of installation offers a vendor.

After you install your HP 1012, uninstall the nagware.

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