Monday, January 21, 2008

I hate Apple and HP

A couple months ago I bought a new MacBook. For the most part I've loved it, but last night I ran into a problem.

When I bought my Mac, Apple was offering a $100 rebate on the purchase of a new printer to go with it. The sales guy pointed out that there are number of printers that cost around $100, so the printer would be essentially free. I chose an HP C4280 All-in-One. Look at that! If it wasn't for sales tax I would have made five cents off of the purchase. Well, you get what you pay for

As a printer it's worked fine. I didn't even need to install any drivers. I plugged it in and it just worked. Of course, that's what I expect from Apple. But last night my wife wanted to scan a document and make it into a PDF. I figured, "Ok, that should be easy." Boy was I wrong.

So I launch Image Capture on my Mac to scan the document. It tells me that I don't have any attached devices. Hmmm. I printed a few minutes ago. Why don't I have any attached devices? So maybe I'm using the wrong application. There's a "scan" button on the printer, so I press that, hoping that the right application will magically open up (see what Apple has done to me!). The printer thinks for a minute, and then tells me that it's not connected through USB. Well, of course it is, because I just printed over USB. I decide to do some Googling

It turns out that while the printer drivers come pre-installed with Leopard, the scanner drivers do not. It's a 192 MB download full of crapware. I hate Apple for making me think that I didn't need to install drivers, and then consuming a chunk of my Sunday evening installing drivers. They set an expectation and then disappointed. It would have been much better to just make me install all the drivers up front.

But why did I say it was full of crapware? Well, let's see. So I scanned the document as a PDF with text (so it has to do OCR) using "HP Scan Pro." That worked. Kind of. I did get a decent looking PDF document with the text correctly converted into text. I also got a completely locked up HP Scan Pro application, and I mean completely locked up. I tried to log out of my Mac, figuring that would clean up the crashed process. Nope! It sat there for a minute, then complained that an application wouldn't exit and asked if it should do it forcefully. I of course said yes, and then it just sat there for a few minutes longer. I got the same result from trying to shut down. At least when you tell Windows that it can violently kill, it violently kills the processes. Apparently MacOSX is too polite, or at least has more patience than I do.

That's another reason to hate Apple. It was worse than Windows, and using a product purchased from the Apple Store no less.

Fortunately I'm a Unix guy and I know how to violently kill processes.

su ps -ef | grep HP kill -9 pid1 (pidX is the process id of an HP process) kill -9 pid2

Until they are all dead. That worked. Of course in the process of doing this I discovered that there are a couple HP processes running as root, which disturbs me to no end.

What I'd like to ask Steve Jobs is: How many Mac users would know to drop down to a terminal, su to root, and violently kill the processes? I just can't see your average non-techie Mac user doing that. Apple should really do a better job screening the products it sells with new computers.

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Anonymous said...

Scanners can be one of the trickiest peripherals to work on. At least you don't have the old scanners that run on SCSI, those were horrible and worked less then 20% of the time. Only if there were some generic scanner driver/software out there. The HP scanning software is bulky and slow at times.

Anonymous said...

Well here is a tip then: if ever anyone asks you to help them with a wireless printer, do whatever it takes to get out of doing so. Seriously, if you are on the tenth floor, and an open window is the only way out, take a chance.

Anonymous said...

HP printer sw is fatware (regardless of OS). When I took a similar offer a year ago I vetoed HP just for that reason and got another brand ... If I cannot rely on the sw I do not care if the hw is tops ... Got an Epson, as I ruled out Cannon for making extremely small cartridges !

Anonymous said...

If you want to kill an application without resorting to the command line, just use Activity Monitor (/Applications/Utilities/). Hopefully, the average Mac user knows this.

Even if a driver has to be installed once out of every 10, this is still an improvement over Windows. Also, I've similarly had times when Windows failed to kill an application after choosing the "End now" option, so OS X is no worse here (at least kill -9 is available). Also, "Force Quit" from Activity Monitor has always worked for me, while, strangely, a regular "Force Quit" works 90+% of the time.

It's hard for me to see how you can blame Apple for poor software and/or drivers written by HP. Sure, they sell the stuff in their stores, but if you'd bought it at Best Buy, would you say, "I hate Best Buy and HP"?

editor said...

That would be awesome if Activity Monitor could kill it. Except it can't. It keeps on living with so many processes going on.

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Anonymous said...

I get it, necropost.


No need to install any drivers, people. Just plug in, open the Print and Fax preferences, and select "scan"
Piece of cake, works perfectly.

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