In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Print by e‑mail

A few months ago, Hewlett-Packard announced a new line of printers that allow printing via e‑mail. I’m not exactly sure how it works but it must print the attachment of any e‑mail message it receives. Printing the e‑mail message itself doesn’t make much sense. The comments on the various news stories I saw often brought up how the printers would be targeted with spam in record time.

That’s certainly true if you allow wide-open access to the e‑mail address the printer would have, but you’d be silly to allow such access. Some posts even suggested that HP themselves would get in on this to sell more toner. I thought that was a step too far toward conspiracy theorist territory.

I was wrong.

According to Computerworld’s article, “HP partners with Yahoo for targeted ads,” the people over at HP have lost their fracking minds:

The company also sees a potential for localized, targeted advertising to go along with the content. While testing its ePrint Web-connected printers, HP ran two trials where consumers received content from a U.S. national music magazine and major U.S. newspaper along with advertisements, said Stephen Nigro, senior vice president in HP’s Imaging and Printing Group.

Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly clear. How did consumers receive this content? Did they print it themselves? Was it sent to them and just popped out of the printer without being requested? In the former case, I expect what appears on the page to exactly represent what’s on the screen. If it’s not, the printer isn’t doing its job. And the latter situation better not ever happen to me.

The most laughable comment, clearly indicating that Nigro has his head up his ass is,

“What we discovered is that people were not bothered by it [an advertisement],” Nigro said. “Part of it I think our belief is you’re used to it. You’re used to seeing things with ads.”

We may be used to it, but that’s merely a sad commentary on the current state of advertising, not a reason to extend it into new areas. That they’re doing this shows how far HP has fallen. They were the cutting edge of printing technology, and now they want to cash in on ads because their test group “isn’t bothered” by them. How about aiming a little higher than simply not bothering people?

Don’t think it ends there, either. Ho no! They also figure that they can use the printer’s IP address to get at least a rough idea where you are, and tailor ads to your location. Of course they assure us that they’ll keep our privacy in mind. Tell me another one.

The only way I can figure this working is if you must subscribe to whatever information is sent to you. The article mentions having the printer automatically print the morning paper for you at 7 am every day. That sounds all futuristic, in a 1960 sort of way, but surely the newspaper isn’t going to send you the news for free. Will it be cheaper to print the paper yourself than to have it delivered? Don’t bet on it. HP and Yahoo need their share of the revenues. And you’ll pay for the privilege of printing the ads. Lucky you.

For goodness sakes, why do I want my daily news printed on paper in this day and age?

I’ll pass, thanks.

I looked into how the printer does its magic. According to a digitalhome.ca article:

The way the ePrint platform will work is every HP ePrinter will be given a unique email address that allows users to send print jobs to their printer in the same way they would send an email message.

Once sent, the email containing the document or photo to be printed is forwarded to an HP datacenter, where the email message is prepared for printing, and then forwarded on to users printer about 30 seconds later. Of course, your printer must be turned on and connected to the internet in order to successfully print.

So all your print jobs are sent to HP on the way to your printer. Forget about printing anything of an even a mildly sensitive nature. I see that this makes it much easier to configure, but sacrifices security.

I’ll definitely pass. It’s a gimmick for which I can’t even imagine a use.

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2 Comments

  1. Shawn

    what a joke indeed. I want my toner sucked up by ads. And as you said security and privacy go out the window. Give it 6 months in the wild and it will disappear.

  2. Jonathan

    Since we are now passed the year 2000 we no longer need to wonder what types of awesome/ fantastical technology will be available in the year 2000 it is here now! Be your own newspaper Baron! Drive your own 2000 SUX (look it up it is Robocop awesome). Print your own newspapers. Tell your friends you changed your name to Conrad Black! Begin swindling people just to buy toner and paper. The Ottawa Citizen costs $1.25 newsstand price, delivered price is even cheaper of course. Will home printed papers be attractive to people who will have to go buy paper and toner every week! Have you seen the weekend edition?

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