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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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In The Old Days

I have fond memories of being a professional web developer in the 90s. At the time, the qualifications for that title were basically to be a teenager and know how to use Photoshop. Photoshop was expensive. It was worth it, because it was better than anything else on the market. By a long shot. They knew it was the best, they charged like it was the best, and they supported it like it was the best.

A lot has changed since then. For one, I should no longer be trusted with the visual aesthetic of anything. I am not a professional web developer anymore. Thus, my needs for commercial raster products revolve around photo library management, retouching, and editing. I won’t say I was in love with Apple’s Aperture, but it met my needs right up until Apple decided to discontinue it.

Apple’s offering to replace Aperture is Photos. It wasn’t ready for market when I needed it and the features are limited in areas that Aperture was not. That may change over time, but I’ve grown weary of hitching my horse to aspirational products. There are a bunch of niche products that addressed some of my needs, but I couldn’t solve for an equation where I would need fewer than three of them joined together by duct tape and superglue. And thus, it was back to the Adobe camp.

I braced myself to spend thousands of dollars only to discover I did not need to. I could now purchase Lightroom and Photoshop in a subscription context for a reasonable monthly rate. I pinched myself, embraced the nostalgia, and never looked back.

Photoshop has changed a lot since I last spent time with it. Lightroom was pretty foreign coming from Aperture. It took a while to [re-]familiarize myself but I became comfortable with both products. I worked through a painful multi-weekend project to move several terabytes of photo libraries from Aperture to Lightroom and breathed a sigh of relief. All was well.

Then, a few months later, Creative Cloud spontaneously stopped working. I’m not sure if it was an Apple software update, an Adobe software update, or some third-party update. The symptoms were pretty straightforward: I tried to launch Creative Cloud Desktop and it immediately crashed. It produced a detailed crash log. I couldn’t launch Lightroom and Photoshop anymore because they wanted CCD running.

Naturally I first uninstalled and reinstalled. Searched the Internet to see if anybody had similar problems. Tried removing Photoshop and Lightroom too. No luck. I figured it was going to be okay, though. I was using flagship products and would get flagship support!

It was easy to forget that, in fact, I was using a subscription product with budget pricing. I should have adjusted my expectations.

No Joy

It was a workday morning when everything stopped working and I was running out of time. I pulled up the Adobe support page expecting to be able to create a ticket or at least send an email. I was unable to figure out how to do either. Instead, I had three options: Make a phone call, start a support chat, or head to the support forums.

Short on time and getting ready for work, I didn’t want to be stuck on the phone. I started the web chat. There was just a small text box without a lot of room so I put in a brief description of the problem.

And then I waited. For half an hour. I didn’t get a response of any sort other than to sit tight and keep waiting. No human ever joined my chat.

I closed the window and went for plan B. I headed to the forums. These forums are populated by a bunch of helpful Adobe users but also monitored by Adobe staff. If peers were unable to help me find a solution, Adobe would surely jump in and save the day. It might take longer, but I knew I would be in good hands.

This was April 23rd. I tried to create my post on the forums but they kept timing out on the server side. Ugh. I went to work. That evening I tried again with better luck. Within a few hours, a helpful forum member suggested some steps. I tried them, reported they didn’t work, and reverted back. He suggested more steps. I tried more things.

The suggestions became increasingly inane. Give my user account full read & write permissions to everything under the system Library folder. Add a root user. Run CCD as root. You get the idea. These are not things that properly functioning software should require. I protested, but out of desperation I eventually tried them all. Still no joy.

We reverted back a few more times and I finally indicated that despite all the help, I really needed Adobe to chime in and diagnose the problem. Their software was crashing. Maybe it wasn’t a bug on their side, but they had the best chance of doing any sort of triage or diagnosis and pointing me in the correct direction.

Adobe never replied. I eventually gave up and installed to a new vanilla copy of OS X and my functionality was restored. I hardly think that approach was necessary, but it ended up being sufficient in the end. So, my sad story concluded and I was left sour but the functionality was restored.

But wait, there’s more.

The story doesn’t end yet. I get three of the following emails between May 11th and 12th.

say what

I can’t really blame Mail.app for thinking them spam. The only thing suggesting they’re even legitimate emails is that the return address for this individual is an adobe.com address.

Then I got a very official looking email from Adobe with letterhead and header and footer and all that jazz. Enveloped inside were similar words from Vivek. They understand if I’m too busy to respond, but they’re going to close my case in two days since they haven’t heard from me.

My what? My case? I don’t even have a case. I couldn’t figure out how to create one (I’m probably stupid, to be fair).

Turns out, when you start chat support, it creates a case. So here’s a transcript of my chat with support. In it, I ask for help. Nobody responds. They close it two days later saying I was unresponsive. Then … weeks later they reach out asking for a callback number for me.


I wrote the person back (I couldn’t reply to the official email because it’s a noreply address with no link to my case) indicating I was a little incredulous and confused by the whole experience at this point. I immediately got a response asking for my phone number. Okay, fine, I immediately handed it over. Gave them 45 minutes and didn’t get a call. Oh well. You get what you pay for?