I had been getting red smears and blobs starting on the left side of the page and trailing almost all the way across. I cleaned the usual gunk off the print heads, and finally got up the nerve to try Charles Gast's method of pulling the plug when the flat cover over the right-side ink reservoirs in the resting station moved out of the way.
The whole area was thickly smeared with ink. The little foam applicators I used were overwhelmed by the mess, so I carefully folded a paper towel and wiped the area, repeating multiple times. Then I used the applicators. I then allowed the cover to slide back into place and cleaned gunk off the top of the cover. I then swiped the area around the ink sponge on the left side of the printer, as well as anywhere else I saw ink. I let the printer reinitialize, did an alignment and calibration and so far the prints are looking clean and good. Whew!
However, I got a message in the bottom of the printer driver: "Status and Service Unavailable. Device may be off line or unreachable at this time." On the Service tab in the Printer Utility, whenever I clicked on one of the tasks I got the message: "Unable to Perform the Operation." However, I was able to print from Photoshop CS4 as well as Qimage, although I was unable to get the HP Print Preview to come up before the file was sent to the printer.
I deinstalled all the drivers and HP software and deleted the printer from XP. I reinstalled everything, rebooted, and I still get the same messages. The printer is connected through a router using the ethernet connection, just the way it has been since I got the printer 1 1/2 years ago. I am also able to reach the printer through its URL (the 192.168.x.x address).
Where do I go from here? I am grateful that I can print again, but really irritated by the buggy software.