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I hate Adobe Activation

There, I said it. I hate Adobe's Activation procedure. Yes, I understand you have to protect your software from all the complete morons and low-lifes who can't pony up the money to purchase software legitimately, but geez, do you have to make this procedure so asinine that it affects legitimate purchases?

Three weeks ago I installed Apple OS 10.5 on a fresh hard drive on my editing workstation. A day later I installed my copy of the Production Premium Package CS3 to do some After Effects work. The Activation screen obviously pops up, I tell it to go ahead, but it fails. Fine, I'll Activate it later.

Two weeks ago I use After Effects and the Activation warning pops up again, again it fails to automatically activate on the internet. So I go ahead and do the Phone Activation. No problem, it gives me the activation code and I get the "Thank you for Activating the software" and I move on.

Yesterday, I launch Photoshop for the first time and I get the Activation request AGAIN. Ok, now I'm confused. Activiation only has to happen once across the entire suite, just like the last time I did it on my OS 10.4 (Tiger) drive. But what the heck, if it wants to activate again, what the hell.

Again, the automated activation fails. This time the phone activation also fails and instructs me to call an 800 number. I call that 800 number. This is where the fun really starts.

After 30 minutes of getting my serial number, putting me on hold multiple times, asking me a bunch of questions, putting me on hold again, asking a few more questions, putting me on hold again, I'm told that my serial number is invalid.

"Excuse me?"

"Your serial number is invalid."

I'm looking at the serial number on the screen and the serial number on the box of Adobe Premium Production Bundle CS3. They match. It's the serial number that Adobe put on the sticker and it's the serial number I've been using since July of 2007. But now it's invalid.

"Um, could you tell me how that number is suddenly invalid because it has been a valid number for almost a year and it's the number that's printed on the sticker on the box."

"You have activated it twice, now the serial number is invalid."

For those of you following along so far, you'll recall that I successfully activated the software last week, there was no reason for Photoshop to ask for a third activation. But I digress.

"Well, I have the box right here and I have my receipt, this is a valid copy of CS3, what do we do now?"

"Please hold while I make a phone call."

10 minutes later (yep, I'm watching the clock like a hawk now because my blood pressure has started to rise.)

"Do you have the proof of purchase?"

"Yes, it's right here in my hands."

"Well then, you'll have to fax that to us so we can issue you a new serial number, you can only activate your copy of the software 2 times."

What?!? I paid $1,200 for software and I'm only allowed to activate it two times and then my serial number will magically become invalid?

"Ok, once I fax it to you, what happens?" "We will issue you a new serial number in 48 hours after we verify the purchase."

48 hours AFTER they verify my purchase which should be quite easy to do considering I have the original discs sitting right here in my hands. Now the Adobe grace period will run out in a few days so if they can't verify my purchase right away, After Effects will stop working right in the middle of a project. You know, that same After Effects I purchased in July 2007 that Activated perfectly fine two weeks ago on this very same computer in this very same operating system? The one that had a valid serial number two weeks ago but now that serial number has suddenly poofed into a pumpkin never to be used again.

I send the fax. "Busy / No Response" I send the fax again. "Busy / No Response" I send the fax 20 more times over the past two days. "Busy / No Response."

I call Adobe Tech Support again today. "I can't get your fax machine to pick up. Is it working?" "Please hold while I make a phone call."

5 minute later "Just keep trying the fax it will pick up eventually."

Well gee, Thanks Adobe! I'll just keep trying to fax a proof of purchase that I should not have to fax to you at all. It's because of a failure in your Activation procedure that I'm sending anything and wondering if I'll get that new magical Serial Number that will make the world right again. Because if not, well than After Effects just stops working right in the middle of that new show open I'll be creating this week, but what the heck, it's only a deadline.

And by the way, make sure there is absolutely NOTHING your Tech Support guys can do on the phone, make sure I have to fax something in to prove that I own the copy of CS3 that I activated AND registered giving you all the information about me and the company just so you could verify that information in the future.  Make sure I have to do something like fax information to a fax machine that only picks up between 1:30 and 1:45 in the morning and only on a Tuesday. 

So I repeat. I hate Adobe's Activation procedure. There is absolutely no reason that legitimate owners should ever be stopped from activating their software for any reason whatsoever. Particularly since Apple's OS can get so good at corrupting itself that a complete erase and install is sometimes in order.

Speaking of Apple, Adobe could learn a lot from Apple's Tech support personnel. For one thing, Adobe, for the folks calling from the U.S., please please please get Tech Support Agents who can speak English fluently. I honestly don't care what country they are in, I just don't want to spend half of the 1 hour conversation asking "What was that again?" "Excuse me?" "I don't understand, can you repeat that?"  

When I call Apple, I usually getting incredibly friendly folks from Canada and we have very pleasant conversations. I love the way the say "aboot" instead of "about." But at least I can understand them and they are extremely friendly and cordial on the phone.

Both times I called Adobe, I had a very hard time understanding what these folks were saying and that just adds to the level of frustration.  Trust me, there's a lot of people here in the U.S. I would NOT want answering the phones either because I can't understand them.  But when you're in the position of talking to people, especially about technical issues, we need to be able to clearly understand them.

Adobe needs to protect their software, but they need to do it in such a way that does not hinder legitimate owners. And they need to better train their Tech Support phone personnel to speak clearly and fluently in the native language of whomever is calling.

If nothing else, this escapade has shown me that I really do need to dig deeper into the Apple Motion manuals to figure out how I can move more of my workflow to that software. I've never had any sort of serial number issue there no matter how many times I've had to reinstall the software.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 12, 2008 at 3:23:22 pmComments (18) photoshop, after effects, premiere pro, adobe

Control Surface for Pro Editing / Graphics / Compositing

In response to a post on the Creative Cow Final Cut Pro Forum, my choice for a control surface to run all Pro Apps on a Mac is a Wacom tablet. I run a 9x12 Intuos 3 in my suite and I just can't see working without one.

For one thing, carpel tunnel syndrome just doesn't happen with a tablet, so you can work your 14 - 20 hour days and have no wrist pain. Second you get your entire workspace right on your tablet so there's no pick up the mouse and drag a second time if you have multiple monitors. Third, when working with apps such as Motion, Photoshop and After Effects, the tablets are pressure sensitive so the harder you push down, the more ink / paint will come out when using pressure sensitive tools.

It takes a few days to become acclimated to how a tablet works vs. a mouse, but once you get that comfort with it, you'll never go back to anything else. I set the unit up to the right of the keyboard because it feels more natural that with with my hands and also, it sets up very nicely on our editing consoles that way. Here's a shot of the tablet in my Wally World edit suite.

And in case you're wondering, that's the Bella USA FCP Pro Keyboard to the left of it, I highly recommend that as well. All the keys are color coded to the application and there's a jog/shuttle wheel on there that is a great help when digitizing and even playing back footage on the system.

Quicktime Player now reads Timecode

As Chi-Ho Lee noted on the Final Cut Pro forum today, Quicktime 7.1.6 has been released in anticipation of Final Cut Studio 2 and you can now read timecode in the Quicktime Player. Wow! Finally! Not sure why it took so long, but here's the proof.

If you click on the running time you now get a drop down box which gives you three choices of the Standard Running Time, Timecode and Frame Number.

Here's the clip now showing the original timecode off the camera tape. VERY cool and now anyone with Quicktime Player can accurately see timecodes without the need to burn in TC windows. Thank you Apple!

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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