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December 20, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Gateway ink monitor

GatewayinkmonitorRonson Lamond writes:

Gateway computers come with software to remind you to buy ink cartridges for your printer. 

I received this low ink warning message for this printer called the Journal Note Writer - which only creates pdfs, which do not require the use of ink...I may have to run out and buy some digital ink soon.


Your digital printer doesn't use ink, so technically it has no ink, something the program is designed to warn you about. I'm not really sure how a company can guard against something like this. It doesn't surprise me that your computer thinks that Journal Note Writer is an actual printer; my laptop thinks there are two DVD drives hooked up to it but one is hardware and the other is a creation of software.

Posted by: T-Bone at December 20, 2006 01:59 AM

I can't agree with T-Bone. You're right, Gateway can't guard against something like this; but what that really means is that they shouldn't try. Each printer manufacturer does things slightly differently; in trying to cater for all of them Gateway will inevitably run into problems with some models of printer (and, as here, some things that aren't even printers).

Solution: Gateway should leave the reporting of ink levels to the individual manufacturer's printer driver.

Now that I come to think of it, this is just an example of a much wider category of broken things: the vast majorty of software that comes pre-installed on major retailers computers. You know, the Dell-branded wireless network driver and diagnostics centre, the HP-branded digital media centre, those sort of things. THEY ALL SUCK. They're all set to run when the computer starts, use up TONS of memory, can't be fully disabled with msconfig, and are almost impossible to uninstall properly. In most cases, they're actually worse than the Windows native utilities (hard to imagine, I know). I had to completely wipe and reinstall Windows on a friend's new Dell laptop recently because trying to uninstall all the preinstalled utilities had completely screwed up the system. I couldn't even use the restore partition, because that would have restored all the preinstalled utilities as well! Aaaaargh!

Posted by: Simon at December 20, 2006 07:01 AM

Simon - I know exactly how u feel. I only build my own pcs now just due to the fact the comps come with soooo muchh pre-installed crap (which i consider broken, if u just baught it, it should not allready contain spam!) i heard dell is now selling desktops with lynx as an option?

Posted by: n1nj4 at December 20, 2006 07:51 AM

I wonder what would happen if someone tried to "buy" the ink through Gateway for the digital software.

Posted by: Uzumaki at December 20, 2006 10:58 AM

What I don't understand is what criteria does the Gateway computer use to determine low ink?

I could understand the computer/software communicating with a printer which indicates it has low ink. That makes sense and could be useful.

But what is this doing? Figuring you printed 100 times so you must be out of ink? I have three printers and two software 'printers' how often would I get these messages and how useful would they be?

Posted by: arcticJKL at December 20, 2006 11:51 AM

"What I don't understand is what criteria does the Gateway computer use to determine low ink? I could understand the computer/software communicating with a printer which indicates it has low ink. That makes sense and could be useful."

That's probably exactly what it does. The problem is that it doesn't account for devices that don't have any concept of ink.

As for leaving it up to the printer manufacturer: I don't think Gateway's providing a "Purchase Ink" button as a favour, and since they're selling ink through this thing they have an incentive to prefer false positives to false negatives.

Posted by: rich at December 20, 2006 12:19 PM

Utterly broken. Is there any doubt that the "Buy Ink" button leads to a company that has made a deal with Gateway to send business their way?

This is a money grab, and not something useful to the customer.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at December 20, 2006 01:11 PM

I'm going to pitch my vote with Simon's: They all suck.

At work I'm stuck using an HP all-in-one for printing and scanning (and fax and copying). Every 10-15 minutes one of those astoundingly intrusive and annoying popups takes over control of my PC trying to sell me HP ink saying my ink is low. 10-15 minutes after that another one pops up to tell me that I've installed a new genuine HP ink cartridge.

But I haven't. The ink wasn't low when the stupid thing said it was, and the same half-full cartridge is the same one that was in there before. HP has no idea why this keeps happening, suggesting dirty contacts or other somesuch hardware issues that the IT guys have tried to fix umpteen times, the problem continues now going on two years regardless of the status or changing of the ink cartridges, and nobody can keep the damn thing from popping up every 10-15 minutes and interrupting my work until I click on it. Best part is I can't disable the software because the IT folks say they can't and they won't give me the user privileges to do it myself. Brilliant.

I'm really starting to hate HP as much as I hate Windows, and all so they can try to sell more ink. Stupid of them. And don't even get me started on IT departments that lock users out of their own PCs.

Posted by: Erich at December 20, 2006 02:21 PM

Computers these days are TERRIBLE. On several occasions, I (my computers administrator) was denied access to several files. That is really annoying.

Posted by: dahobo at December 20, 2006 04:44 PM

"And don't even get me started on IT departments that lock users out of their own PCs."

It is not the user's PC that the IT department is locking the user out of. The PC belongs to the company. The reason that this is done is to prevent people from installing illegal software or futzing around with important settings that can screw up the entire network.

Posted by: ebob at December 20, 2006 07:16 PM

Is "Journal Note Writer" something that came pre-installed on your computer, or is it something you added later? Since Gateway doesn't make or sell ink, I doubt this message would be intentionally coming from Gateway software; it's probably more likely 3rd party software that is broken (possibly pre-installed 3rd party software, but still not something created by Gateway).

And yes, I agree that the bulk of all preinstalled software on PCs sucks. It's always been a mystery to my *why* this stuff even is preinstalled in the first place - the only theory I have that makes sense is that as soon as one PC company did it, all the other ones did it too just to show that they also had "integrated media player" and such. But as Windows gets more functionality, it seems like doing this is counter-productive for manufacturers.

As much as we like to bash Windows, it does tend to be as or more reliable than 3rd party media add-ons that try to replace its functions, and it's usually easier to use compared to 3rd party bundled programs.

Posted by: Sashazur at December 20, 2006 07:24 PM

>ebob:"It is not the user's PC that the IT department is locking the user out of."

I know WHY it is done, it is just that few corporate policies are as effective at negating the very benefit they are supposed to protect. A PC is purchased to enhance productivity and communications, and then laden with user policies that reduce their potential value to the company a thousandfold.

This has gone around and around before, and it would take a lot of off topic space to cover in depth, but suffice it to say that any policy that is ~at least~ as successful at interfering with and even preventing actual work as it is at its stated intended objective is a broken policy. It certainly isn't in any way a user centric policy and only works to the detriment of the user experience in the very environment where a good experience would translate directly into increased employee productivity.

Posted by: Erich at December 21, 2006 01:36 AM

being one of those in the IT department types I feel the need to respond to Erich (even though I also know I shouldn't, just opens a big bad can of worms).

Those policies that you dislike so much are the same types that keep users who don't really understand from doing something bad accidentally... like loading software that will crash their computer (or the many, MANY other things they might do, just because they don't know better)... and we ALL know users will do that kind of thing all the time, no matter how much they say they wouldn't.

And for those users who do know what they are doing, those policies are in place for the same reason... maybe even more so, since they are the types that really think they do know everything and are even more inclined to screw things up when they get in over their head.

Who do every one of them come to when they get to that point.. the IT people.

So you have your choice, either live with the policies that the IT people put in place for your own good, that might slow you down here and there...

or don't have policies in place and watch the chaos and productivity issues go through the roof as the IT people try to keep up with the sheer number of users who messed up their computers.

Posted by: Memnon at December 21, 2006 04:29 PM

back on topic though...

that really is a silly error message to see I must agree... I can think of several reasons behind it, but none of them really mean that the message isn't broken...

Posted by: Memnon at December 21, 2006 04:31 PM

I think most if not all low-ink indicators are broken. When my Canon printer says "low-ink", the cartridge isn't even half empty.

Posted by: TIBE4ME at December 22, 2006 02:45 PM

What I want to know is, have you ever bothered to empty your digital waste toner bottle? Because you don't want to know what happens to your Gateway CPU when THAT overflows.

Posted by: henrybowmanaz at January 1, 2007 06:23 PM

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