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How to Fight Email Spam, Stop Printer Ink Subscriptions, and More | Q&A with Patrick Marshall

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Q: I have an HP Instant Ink subscription. A set of cartridges will last me nine months to a year, so I figured I’d be better off without a subscription. When I notified the provider, I was told that if I canceled the service by stopping the monthly payment, my current ink would be disabled. Can the vendor do this by installing something on the latest set and if so can it be disabled?

— Richard Schultz

A: With HP Instant Ink, HP monitors the amount of ink left in your Internet-connected printer and sends more ink when needed. According to HP, if you cancel your HP Instant Ink subscription, the ink cartridges will continue to work until the end of the current billing cycle. Next, you’ll want to install a standard (uncontrolled) ink cartridge. I am not aware of any way to disable HP’s control over the Instant Ink cartridge. But if that were possible, it would likely be a violation of the HP Instant Ink subscription agreement.

Related technical questions and answers

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Q: I’m getting jerky emails to my Gmail account. I filed a report with the Federal Trade Commission. What else can I do? Do you know a way to contact Google or Gmail service or technical support?

— Chuck Finnigan

A: I am not surprised that you are receiving inaccurate emails. Who doesn’t?

And while I think it’s a good idea to report such email to the FTC, I don’t expect any action to block such emails from entering your account.

Also, Google doesn’t get high marks for Gmail’s direct tech support. The best support I can find is the Gmail Help Community. You can ask questions at support.google.com/mail/community.

If you want to reduce spam and phishing emails, I recommend opening a new email account and not using that email address when communicating with companies or websites.

Q: My wife has a 5 year old Dell laptop connected to the router and a 2007 Brother printer. The computer keeps turning the printer offline and we have to reset it almost every week. My Dell is set up the same way and won’t go into offline mode. Both computers are connected to the printer.

— Mike Morrell, La Conner

A: Since we’ve ruled out wifi issues, I’m afraid I can’t give a definitive answer. I recently had a similar problem. I restarted the computer and then was able to reinstall the printer.

I don’t know why connecting to a printer is a pain and why many of us have to reinstall printer drivers often. My recommendation is to make sure your computer is running a fully updated operating system and install the latest printer drivers.

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