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Sunday, June 11, 2006

A story about HP

Recently, I have rediscovered how much I despise HP. Yeah, Hewlett-Packard, the company that swallowed up Compaq in a deal that got their big-shot female CEO fired. Anyway, I'll start with a little side-story.
Several months ago, our computer just up and decided to not work. It would get halfway through startup and just shut off. Not good. So by holding F8, ctrl, delete and the Anykey, I finally got to a point where I could boot up into safe-debug-this-is-stupid mode. First, it said something about missing boot.ini. Next time it restarted, it flashed something about mup.sys before it promptly shut off again. So for the next couple days, I searched for high and low and tried numerous methods of getting my computer to start up again, and finally, desperate, with no other hope, decided to try a far-out, strange suggestion I found lurking on some forum. So I started the computer, counted to 27, unplugged the mouse and keyboard, stood on my head for 12 seconds, and plugged them back in. Miraculously enough, it worked. (OK, I didn't stand on my head and I didn't count, but I did just unplug them and plug them in at key points during startup.) So after scratching my head about how that had ANY effect at all, I was content to have a working computer again.

Now, how does this nice story have anything to do with HP? Well, plenty, it turns out. As I went to scan something for the bajillionth time with the HP All-In-One, it once again barfed and decided to not work. So I finally decided to do something about it. I went to their website, a tad apprehensive. (As I type, the scanner randomly decided to move. Spooky.) So I waded my way to the Software Issues section. Amongst all the problems with Macs and HP, I found a way to get around the HP Software. Sweet, I thought, this'll work. Turns out it involved using a Windows Wizard. Nice and simple, like I like it. But as I soon found out, too simple. I can't even figure out how to zoom in. So much for that idea. I'm stuck with HP's almost-worthless piece of software.
So I went back to the site, and there it was: PLEASE INSTALL THIS CRITICAL UPDATE. Figures, they shipped me faulty software. So I follow the link, and amongst the problems like making your CD burner not work was this, and I quote:

Resolves an issue where if you install the software that came with an older peripheral product, such as a printer or camera, onto your new computer or in conjunction with an All-in-One, when you try to run the HP Memories Disc Creator program it may fail. In addition, the following issues could occur:

* Hal.dll error message
* Boot.ini error message
* Missing applications and/or files


Wow, I thought, that sounds familiar. So now really angry that HP nearly cost me all the data on our main computer, I try to figure out how to download the fix. So does it provide me a link at least? No. Quote, again:
#
Go to www.hp.com (in English).
#
If needed, select your language from the language selection field in the top right corner of the page.
#
Enter sp26273 into the search field.

And it goes on for three more steps. So I have to go back to the home page, type in a cryptic code, and hopefully stumble across the right files? Surprisingly enough, I did, and downloaded and installed the fix. Then it gave me one of those annoying boxes that says "shut down everything your doing and we'll kindly restart your computer for you." No option to restart later or anything. So I grudgingly follow their command, and once it's back up, FINALLY am able to scan something. Of course, it still tries to reinstall itself and whines about not having the CD until I finally convince it that it doesn't need the CD by clicking the same OK button four times. My pictures finally got scanned, and I still despise HP. But at least my scanner works - for now.
So a few days later, I pick up my new issue of PC World. And what do I find? In their usual bugs and patches article, a patch that was supposed to fix a - guess what - HP program that went awry and basically crippled Microsoft Office. Shocking.
So what's the moral of the story? How about avoid HP when at all possible, kind of like I------- E------- and Yahoo!. On second thought, Yahoo's gaining on my good side with their Yahoo Widget Engine - more on that later. So it's just the two letter acronyms, IE and HP, that are on my bad list. Grr.
Randy

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