Posts filed under ‘Rants & Annoyances’

HP Includes Crapware with Printer Driver (I like the printer)

Ok, it hasn’t been a happy holiday season this year. Comcast held a Comcast Doesn’t Care Day and my entire department was eliminated. A few days before Chanuka and two weeks before Christmas.

So, I found myself assessing the tools I need for job hunting (it’s been a while since I was at Comcast 12+ years). My Xerox Personal Copier (circa 1994) needed a drum/cartridge (approx $100) and my 8 year old fax machine (a $129 Brother) was sending stuff that was unreadable. True, I don’t use a fax much anymore, but there are a few  non tech entities that still don’t understand email and scans. I had a scanner that went in the dumpster about 10 years ago that I never replaced. It lasted just long enough to digitize my heirloom family pictures and my own film prints and negatives.

Staples had this HP 8500 Pro 909g printer/fax/scanner/color copier which, with a printer trade in rebate, was $249.98. And there is a $50 mail in rebate on top of that. OK, $200 to replace my all dead and dying Jurassic period home office communications/imaging devices seemed like a good deal. C|Net liked this printer, too.

I had an 8 year old printer to trade, and a friend to carry equipment  up and down stairs for me. I played with the printer at Staples for quite a while and liked what I saw.

Hardware setup was quick and easy. I have no complaints there. Then I installed the printer driver suite.

Imagine my displeasure when, at the end of the install, I launched IE and I noticed the Yahoo toolbar had been silently installed without my permission. And IE immediately crashed. Way to go, HP. I re-opened IE and disabled the Yahoo toolbar add-in, closed the browser and was greeted with a second “Internet Explorer has stopped working” intercept.  Opened IE and found some additional HP Browser helper objects (BHO’s) in Manage Add-ons and disabled them. Closed the browser. Uninstalled the Yahoo toolbar. Back to normal.

I then decided to contact HP Support to complain about foisting this crap on unsuspecting consumers. The first email response was from a delta semi moron who told me to contact Microsoft for Internet Explorer support in uninstalling the Yahoo toolbar. I emailed my reply and heard back from a different support rep. Apparently HP has so many complaints about the crapware they install that they have a permanent FAQ that includes the language “ ..special offers at HP Deals “. The installer also PINS two icons to the Windows 7 Start menu. 

OK, I’ve vented. I feel better now.


December 15, 2009 at 11:19 am Leave a comment

MS to force us to view ads whether we want to or not?

ZDnet blogger Russell Shaw certainly has found a scary patent filed by Microsoft.

"Enforcing rendering advertisements and other predetermined media
content in connection with playback of downloaded selected media
content. Playback of selected media content is made conditional on
acquisition of a playback token that is generated in response to
playback of the predetermined content.

The playback token may be implemented as a digital rights management
(DRM) license acquired in response to playback of the predetermined
content. Another aspect involves a content insertion engine for
inserting ads or other predetermined content into the playback of
downloaded content

DRM gets more Draconian with every passing day. Since the ad supported model obviously works so poorly, will we be forced into a Big Brother is watching you watch ads universe? Is the next step a patent to embed subliminal ads throughout the entire content? A scary thought that isn’t all that far-fetched.

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December 22, 2007 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

Best Buy Tells Me “Online Prices are Different”

No wonder the State of CT is suing Best Buy. Yesterday, I checked all the Internet ads for a microSD card for my cell phone. Best Buy had a 2GB Sandisk card plus adapter for 49.99 less 5.00 sale price.

I live 5 minutes from the local Best Buy Store. So I drive to the store and two sales clerks try to help me out by showing me a $75 2GB microSD Sandisk card "that came in last night". (In the process I walk by hangers of Sandisk 1GB cards at two different prices). I hold my ground and eventually a third clerk says, oh you want the phone card and pulls out the Sandisk 2GB microSD card with adapter marked $49.99. I grumble my thanks and walk to a register.

At the register, the checkout clerk only cares about trying to push rewards cards and service plans. She refuses to honor the $5.00 sale price I mention that is online and tells me I can always come back to the store and see Customer Service. I pay her the $50.

I left the register and walked over to Customer Service where three nice ladies listen to me complain about the $75/$49 bait and switch and my request for the $5.00 back.

All three mention without any prompting that online pricing is "different".

I get $5.00 cash. I leave the store.

Best Buy Sucks

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June 17, 2007 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

Death Penalty for Spammers

Sometimes I think that a death penalty for spammers would be too lenient.

Robert Alan Soloway crying poverty and using a public defender until slapped down. And driving his Mercedes convertible to court.

This guy should be deported. To another solar system.

May 31, 2007 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

BBC’s Panorama Investigative Show Thinks WiFi is Unsafe

The basis for all of this nonsensical conclusion is apparently some unsubstantiated leap between mobile phone technology and equipment and a theorized similarity to WiFi equipment. Say what?

Someone at Panorama is WiFi phobic. My long standing opinion of the BBC as being grounded in meticulous research and analysis has crashed and there are no survivors.



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May 25, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Shopping Annoyances (And Maybe Some Danger?)

Yes, this is a detour from technology oriented content. I’m about to give up brick and mortar stores permanently, as the aggravation factor has gotten permanently out of control. I’m stuck getting groceries at physical stores, but I’m definitely going to buy everything else anyplace but locally.

I’m really getting aggravated at the number of ways merchants have of intruding on your privacy and trying to squeeze extra hard earned cash out of unsuspecting consumers.

Once upon a time, it was drilled into me that spending cash is far better than using credit cards. These days, many stores seem to be at the point of refusing legal tender in the hopes of getting you to go into debt and pay dept. store interest.

Macy’s Sucks

Macy’s is one of the worst. Their uninformed, underpaid, constantly churning sales clerks have a spiel where they are required (apparently upon penalty of losing their jobs) to ask "Will this be on your Macy’s card?" and if you say no, "Do you have a Macy’s card?". If you just hold out cash, some of the clerks literally don’t know what to do. Apparently they can’t ring up the sale without obtaining an answer. And you can’t get most sale prices without using their credit card.

Since their merger with Filenes, the brand offering has gone steadily downhill. The emphasis and features brands are now cheap store brands. The selection has decreased and the quality has plummeted. Oh how I wish Nordstroms would open here. They are such a class act.

Rewards Cards/Loyalty Cards/Frequent Shopper Cards

Even LIDS has a Loyalty Card. They almost wouldn’t let me buy a baseball cap without one. The clerk refused to sell me what I wanted until I listened to his pitch for a loyalty card. Stop & Shop will give you discounts if you tell them to use the "customer card" but some clerks will argue about it.

I won’t be tracked. End of discussion. Take you loyalty card and shove it.

Service Plans

Circuit City tells me "this ____ qualifies for our service plan". I doubt there is anything in the store that doesn’t. Best Buy is worse. Not only does the clerk spend more time trying to sell you a service plan for _____ than answering questions about the features of _____, but if you actually get to the register, you almost can’t make a purchase without listening to a pitch to buy/get a rewards card.

Even Brookstone, already outrageously over priced has stopped offering a "life time guarantee" and have replaced that policy with, yup, you guessed it – a service plan offering.


Don’t get me started on this one. I have yet to receive a rebate from anything I’ve ever purchased at Best Buy or CompUSA. It’s a waste of postage. It’s worthy of a class action suit, but I doubt it will every happen. The stores throw up their hands and say it has nothing to do with them.

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May 6, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Walt Mossberg Hates Craplets on Vista (Yeah Baby)

He has this one 100% on target. There is nothing worse than getting a shiny new Vista machine and finding it infested with craplets. Applications that the OEM was either paid to include (Norton, McAfee, Rhapsody, and all manner of unwanted garbage) plus trial versions of some software or links to it. Yuck.

Even customizing a machine on line isn’t foolproof. There are some Dells that you cannot simply customize to NOT include some 6 month trial – you can select from AOL/Earthlink/Net Zero, but you can’t select NO. Dell is used as an example, most others are equally as bad.

Here’s Walt’s video on the subject:

April 7, 2007 at 3:58 pm Leave a comment

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