‘My Printer Is Extorting Me’, Complains Subscriber to HP’s ‘Instant Ink’ Program

A writer for the Atlantic complains that their HP printer is shaking them down like a loan shark.
I discovered an error message on my computer indicating that my HP OfficeJet Pro had been remotely disabled by the company. When I logged on to HP’s website, I learned why: The credit card I had used to sign up for HP’s Instant Ink cartridge-refill program had expired, and the company had effectively bricked my device in response….

Instant Ink is a monthly subscription program that purports to monitor one’s printer usage and ink levels and automatically send new cartridges when they run low. The name is misleading, because the monthly fee is not for the ink itself but for the number of pages printed. (The recommended household plan is $5.99 a month for 100 pages). Like others, I signed up in haste during the printer-setup process, only slightly aware of what I was purchasing. Getting ink delivered when I need it sounded convenient enough to me….

The monthly fee is incurred whether you print or not, and the ink cartridges occupy some liminal ownership space. You possess them, but you are, in essence, renting both them and your machine while you’re enrolled in the program…. Here was a piece of technology that I had paid more than $200 for, stocked with full ink cartridges. My printer, gently used, was sitting on my desk in perfect working order but rendered useless by Hewlett-Packard, a tech corporation with a $28 billion market cap at the time of writing, because I had failed to make a monthly payment for a service intended to deliver new printer cartridges that I did not yet need….

There are tales of woe across HP’s customer-support site, in Reddit threads, and on Twitter. A pending class-action lawsuit in California alleges that the Instant Ink program has “significant catches” and does not deliver new cartridges on time or allow those enrolled to use cartridges purchased outside the subscription service, rendering the consumer frequently unable to print. Parker Truax, a spokesperson for HP, told me, “Instant Ink cartridges will continue working until the end of the current billing cycle in which [a customer cancels]. To continue printing after they discontinue their Instant Ink subscription and their billing cycle ends, they can purchase and use HP original Standard or XL cartridges.”
“Nobody told me that if I canceled, then all those cartridges would stop working,” complains another owner of an HP printer cited in the article. “I guess this is our future, where your printer ink spies on you.”

But the article ultimately concludes that the printer’s shakedown is “just one example of how digital subscriptions have permeated physical tech so thoroughly that they are blurring the lines of ownership. Even if I paid for it, can I really say that I own my printer if HP can flip a switch and make it inert?”

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Source Code for Adobe’s PostScript Publicly Released

The story of PostScript “is a story about profound changes in human literacy,” argues Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, “as well as a story of trade secrets within source code.”

And 40 years after it’s creation…
The Computer History Museum is excited to publicly release, for the first time, the source code for the breakthrough printing technology, PostScript. We thank Adobe, Inc. for their permission and support, and John Warnock [Adobe’s 82-year-old co-founder] for championing this release….

From the start of Adobe Systems Incorporated (now Adobe, Inc.) exactly forty years ago in December 1982, the firm’s cofounders envisioned a new kind of printing press — one that was fundamentally digital, using the latest advances in computing. Initial discussions by cofounders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock with computer-makers such as Digital Equipment Corporation and Apple convinced them that software was the key to the new digital printing press. Their vision: Any computer could connect with printers and typesetters via a common language to print words and images at the highest fidelity. Led by Warnock, Adobe assembled a team of skillful and creative programmers to create this new language. In addition to the two cofounders, the team included Doug Brotz, Bill Paxton, and Ed Taft. The language they created was in fact a complete programming language, named PostScript, and was released by Adobe in 1984.

By treating everything to be printed the same, in a common mathematical description, PostScript granted abilities offered nowhere else. Text and images could be scaled, rotated, and moved at will, as in the opening image to this essay. Adobe licensed PostScript to computer-makers and printer manufacturers, and the business jumped into a period of hypergrowth….

Today, most printers rely on PostScript technology either directly or through a technology that grew out of it: PDF (Portable Document Format). John Warnock championed the development of PDF in the 1990s, transforming PostScript into a technology that was safer and easier to use as the basis for digital documents, but retaining all the benefits of interoperability, fidelity, and quality. Over the decades, Adobe had developed PDF tremendously, enhancing its features, and making it a crucial standard for digital documents, printing, and for displaying graphics of all kinds on the screens from laptops to smartphones and smartwatches.
Thanks to guest reader for submitting the story.

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Honda Hits 3D Printing Sites With Takedown Orders Over Honda-Compatible Parts

A writer for The Drive reports that “Recently, I noticed a part that I made for my Honda Accord was removed from Printables, the newly rebranded 3D printing repository offered by Prusa.
“There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for it, but I didn’t think anything else about it…until reports of a mass deletion started popping up on Reddit.”

All models referencing the word “Honda” posted prior to March 30, 2022, were seemingly removed from Printables without warning. These included speaker brackets, key housings, hood latches, shifter bushings, washer fluid caps, roof latch handles, and my trunk lid handle — a part not offered on 10th generation Accords sold in the U.S. at all. In fact, many of the removed parts had no Honda branding but were just compatible with Honda vehicles. As it turns out, Prusa says it was issued a takedown notice from Honda and removed all 3D models that referenced the brand.

“I can confirm to you that we have received a letter from a lawyer representing Honda, informing us that we were required to remove any model which used ‘Honda’ in the listing, the model itself, or one of several trademarks/logos also associated with Honda,” a Prusa spokesperson told The Drive in an email. “This will also be related to the naming of the files it self (sic), as for Honda this would be considered as a violation of their trademark/patents.” A Prusa employee responded to a post on the company’s forums, noting that Honda sent a “huge legal document” that covered every model that the company wished to have deleted. The document reportedly included items that did not have Honda logos, but also specific items with certain shapes and dimensions — like a washer fluid reservoir cap, for example.

A response from another employee was posted suggesting other sites that host 3D models were also sent a similar takedown notice.

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