Open Letter to Adobe

I am a pretty loyal Adobe customer. I’ve bought 3 versions of Photoshop Elements over the years. I would prefer Photoshop, but it is very expensive. I recently upgraded to PSE 8 (side note: why no upgrade pricing?), appreciating the smoother integration with Windows 7.

So why did I have to waste part of my Sunday morning convincing Adobe that I was not a thief?

Wanting to do a quick photo edit before I headed out to the dog park, I fired up PSE only to be greeted by a notice that I had activated the software on 2 computers and that I need to deactivate it on one before using it on this computer. “But wait,” I futilely protested, “I formatted that drive BEFORE installing it on this computer, how’m I gonna deactivate it?” Only silence in return.

So I am forced to the Adobe support page where I quickly find a link to chat with a support person and, 20 minutes later, I have a working PSE.

I bet that it would not be any more inconvenient to download CS5 Master Collection from a file sharing site and crack the activation as it was to use my bought and paid for PSE. What’s up with that?

Accusing me of thievery, and forcing me to jump through hoops to use the software that I paid for, really makes it difficult to choose your products in the future.

To some extent I understand the draconian activation process, CS5 is a valuable professional package. But Photoshop Elements? This comes free with many cameras, scanners, tablets, etc… I give you almost $100 for it and you treat me like a thief. Once again, Adobe, “What’s up with that?”

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Dorked over by Corel…

When I quit pirating (stealing) software, I needed a photo editor that was both full featured and cheap.  Gone was Photoshop, and testing of others began.  After trying virtually every editor out there, I settled on Corel Photo Paint.  I bought version X, upgraded to X1, and then upgraded to X2.

I found the DRM distasteful, a constant running process to prove that I am not a thief.  I lived with it despite my misgivings.  I still can’t figure out why a company that I gave money to would constantly accuse me of stealing what I have bought and paid for.

Yesterday I installed my bought and paid for software into my newly installed Win7 RC, when I attempted to activate it I got the error message that the program had already been activated the maximum number of times.  It might as well as blared “Stop Thief!”

A hindrance, maybe not a big deal.  The error message contained nothing to do if the error was an error.  So I went to Corel’s site and called support…sorry out till Monday.  I called the phone activation number…sorry out till Monday.  I left an online support request…we’ll get back to you in 4 or 5 days.  WTF?  I bought this software, I only installed this software on a single computer.  Granted I reinstall my OS more than most…  I run a lot of beta software, I dork my install often, I install and run the latest Win7 builds, but I did not steal Corel’s software, I bought and paid for it and I have the reciepts.

It is ironic really, Corel is accusing me of being a thief while they are busy stealing from me.  I’ve noticed that those who are most afraid of crime are the same ones committing crimes, they call it projection.

I have been a good customer to Corel, and the thanks I get is accusations of thievery…gee, nice doing business with you too.

I filed a complaint with the BBB demanding a refund.

So while I wait for that complaint to wind its way through the system, I find myself in need of a photo editor.  Of course I would love to use Photoshop…but it costs $700!!  Photoshop elements is a bloated piece of crap…I bought and paid for version 4 and never used it.  I downloaded the trial of version 7 and found that it has gotten worse.

Any advice or suggestions?

(GIMP does not meet my needs, I need more wizard based editing that it gives.  I find that Picasa attempts to take over my computer…I don’t like it.  I currently have Windows Live Photo Gallery, but it does not quite meet my basic needs…ugh!!!…back to the beginning.)

Edit: I just got off the phone with Corel tech support.  First I called their activation hotline, but it is impossible to do anything at that number, you can’t get a person on the line or any help with activation issues.  Next I called their support number and after 10 minutes of navigating voicemail I got a person on the line.  He informed me that I would only get 2 more activations and if I ever needed more than that then I would have to re-purchase the software and get it on disk next time (he claimed that if you buy disks then no activation is required).  When I informed him that that was not part of my EULA and that I would not accept having to re-buy software that I already own, he hung up on me.

So what is up with that?  Does Corel not realize that I am their customer?  I have been a pretty good customer up until now…  I am off to amend my BBB complaint, as an alternative to a full refund I guess I will take a credit toward buying the disks.

I am also going to test Photoshop Elements some more, see if I can’t make it usable some how.

Edit: Corel responded to the BBB complaint with the offer to give me the disk without the restriction, I must pay for shipping and handling.  I accepted the offer, it seems reasonable.

I am pleased with the resolution because Corel has the best product in this price range.  Photoshop elements continues to suck.

This is my second time using the BBB with both outcomes being positive.

A letter…

Following is a letter that I intend to send to Microsoft tomorrow:

July 29, 2006

“Genuine Microsoft Software” Team

Microsoft Corporation

One Microsoft Way

Redmond, WA 98052-6399

To whom it may concern,

Microsoft’s recent imposition of Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) has prevented me from obtaining my rightful updates to Windows XP. I have a 5 year old Sony Vaio that came with Windows XP Home. I recently “restored” the OS on this computer to prepare it for a less demanding task. When I tried to obtain updates I was given the message that my copy of Windows could not be authenticated and I should contact my “regional support tech”. Who is the regional support tech on a 5 year old computer?

I called MS Support and spoke to a series of kind people in Bangalore who could not help me. They sent me to a diagnostics page where an active x control refused to load. I spent 4 hours online with an unpatched 5 year old copy of Windows, obviously my computer was hacked and my brand new install was garbage. While they would not directly say so, the kind support staff hinted that this problem would go away with a new copy of XP.

The important consideration is that at no time did Microsoft software or support staff inform me that my copy of Windows was not genuine, it simply could not run. This bears repeating, my computer did not fail your test, your test refused to run on my ancient—but legal—XP installation. This is a Sony Vaio purchased from Fry’s Electronics, it simply is not possible that this is not a legal copy of Windows.

Windows is far and away my favorite operating system, however, if this is what the future portends; my 10 years as a loyal Microsoft customer are over. This arrogant and capricious implementation of hurtles to the lawful use of my computer force me to seek my software elsewhere.

Very sincerely,

John Trapp

Feelin’ Free

Finally!!  After 6 years of fits and false starts, I have finally made the transition to Linux!  And, I do believe it is for real–and for good–this time around.  I now have had my main machine running linux for 2 weeks. My laptop is dual boot….I still have a windows based media center, and the Mac Mini has been nothing but a pain in the ass.

It feels good.  Today I was analyzing why it felt so good…I came up with the following…

1) Microsoft bugs me.  Not MS the software…I am one of those who think that MS makes the software that all others seek to imitate.  It is MS the giant corporation which seeks to foist things like WGA (see previous post) on me that bugs me.  They sell me software then change the EULA along the way.  I am fairly certain that I did not agree to any such nonsense as them periodically scanning my hard drive back in 2002 when I bought that copy of Windows.  This sort of arbitrary and capricious act makes me glad to be free of the monolith!

2) Microsoft’s newest round of products seem an awful lot like adware to me.  You can’t check “no store” or turn off links to stores anywhere from within Media Player.  Vista has “buy links” spread throughout…maybe the final release won’t be as adware-like as Beta 2.  This really bugs me.  Apple does this too…except they also ship crippleware with their adware…iWeb, iPhoto, Quicktime…all crippleware!  Bugs the shit out of me…I would be soooo happy to dump the monstrosity that is OS X and its companion crippleware.

3) I don’t have to violate copywrites on software anymore.  The EULAs are restrictive, you would need buy 3 copies of every app to avoid violating them.  Software is expensive and constantly needs updating.  I was never able to run legal copies of the software that I need to accomplish my goals with the computer.  So there is a fair amount of relief in shrugging off that guilt.

4) The sense of accomplishment in finally figuring it out enough to make the switch.  Although I must admit that the linux development community really met me more than half way.  Major kudos to them.

My pda still runs windows…no sync for it yet.

So Bill Gates and Co. may think they got over on me with thier poorly implemented WGA–when in reality all they did was push me off to another OS.  Maybe I should send them a thank you card.

My misadventures with MS Genuine (dis)Advantage

So MS has rolled out MS Genuine Advantage for XP. You evidently can’t access updates without it running. But what happens when it doesn’t work? Prepare to enter MS tech support hell.
I recently made that journey, here I will recount it in skelatal form.
I was restoring an old PC at work, a Sony computer that came with XP home. No Windows disks, just restore disks.
Mind you this is an old copy of XP…perhaps even pre SP1.
So I went through the restore process, about what you expect. I uninstalled all of the crapware that Sony included with the OS…5 years ago some of this software may have rose to the level of somewhat adequate. But now it is out dated crappy and old. Then I went to Windows update to start installing patches, service packs, etc…
The first few steps, although awkward are basically what I expect from the Redmond monopoly. Install something (what??) then reboot, return to Windows update and install updates to the update software. Reboot again. Return to Windows update where it informs me that I must prove my software is not pirated. Although offended, I clicked OK. I promptly got a window stating that my install could not be authenticated and that I should contact my regional support tech.
What? Who or what is my regional support tech on a 5 year old computer? So I called 1800-microsoft and started hitting the zero key until a person came on the line. I explained my problem, and she suggested that I visit microsoft.com/genuine/diag/ to resolve my issue. I kept her on the line while I keyed in the address. There was a checklist with like 5 things that this website checked, the last thing on the list was “loading active X” and it stalled at this point. The tech support person kept urging me to go to MS support online and deal with this issue. I refused, insisting that she help me deal with this. At this point I was getting perturbed. No one was stating that my software was not genuine. None of their tests showed that it was not genuine. I was being blocked from getting updates due to Microsoft’s poorly implemented check. For the record this is a Sony Vaio bought at Fry’s Electronics, it has the holographic sticker and the disks were sealed by Sony. I don’t think this is where the piracy occurs. So the tech support person said there was nothing else to do. While not saying so, this person seemed to suggest that the problem would be solved by buying a new copy of Windows. So I escalated the call. Before I move on to the escalation, I want to point out that this first person I dealt with did not know English. I had to constantly rephrase what I said to simplify it for her. She was evidently reading from a screen (assumably phonetics) and became flustered when I pointed out that she already said that and it was of no help.
So when I escalated I was transferred to a man who knew english. He immediatly started parroting the same things using the same words as the first person. He informed me that Microsoft’s servers were very slow and that it might take 24 hours or more for the active x control to load on my dsl line. WTF? He kept trying to get me off the phone, but would do nothing else to help me. Sorry, he said, there is nothing else to do. I badgered him for a while longer trying to resolve my issue. He then gave me MS’s corporate number and told me to call them.
Which I did. My call was answered by a friendly woman who told me that I was calling the wrong number. She directed me to call the previous number, I told her I did that and they could not/would not help me. I asked to be transferred to someone who could help, she told me that MS was a “unique and exciting company” and they did not transfer by department. I needed a person’s name to get transferred. Since I don’t I don’t know anyone at MS I told her to transfer me to Bill Gates. She refused. I told her to direct me to quality control, or public relations, or anyone. Nope, sorry. She then gave me a fax number which she said would get me expedited support.
I thanked her, hung up and sent a fax with all of the info she said it should contain. She said this would generate a response within 24 hours. I sent the fax, but she lied…I got no response.
So what do I do. Do I install a pirated version of Win 2k? Do I purchase a new copy of XP? Should I get excited about Vista?
In the meantime I abandoned Xandros on my main desktop and replaced it with OpenSuse 10.1. OS is not as stable or as fast, but I did get 3d acceleration to work.