Three problems with Adobe’s Creative Cloud

As the director of IT at the newspaper I’ve been dealing with the colossal changes that Adobe has made to the way software is purchased (no decisions made).  For those living in a cave or under a rock here’s what’s changed.  You can no longer purchase individual copies of the software and use it for the next 10 years (or however long).  No instead you must subscribe to their Creative Cloud (CC) at a monthly fee.  It gives you a bit of cloud storage space, but otherwise that’s it.  I’ve not heard that the cloud storage is any great thing.  But here are three things that are wrong with this whole CC thing.

  • You are renting the software…FOREVER.  You never own the software.  If you cancel your subscription…bye bye software.  You’ve paid out how much money and have nothing to show for it?  Sorry, but I’m not down with that.
  • You are renting your files.  I’m reaching a bit here, but I think over time this will be proven true.  When you cancel your subscription (if you do) you can no longer open your files with the software.  I also think that in the future Adobe will embed a piece of code into your files that were created with their CC products that does a check to see if the file is being opened by a CC product.  If not, your out of luck for those files you’ve put your hard work into.
  • This change mostly favors Adobe and not the consumer.  We as consumers got ‘hooked’ on Adobe products and now we are paying for that.  This change has probably done a great job of boosting Adobe’s sales and monthly income (which stockholders will enjoy at some point).  It used to be that you’d buy a Adobe product and use it for X years.  Now you are paying a monthly fee so you can’t take that expense out of X years.

I’m all for corporations making money but this is a bit much for me to stomach.  I’d be more willing to swallow this change if after 2 consecutive years of a subscription you owned the product and there was no file lockout (again I’m reading into this).

I don’t have a solution to this change.  I’m not sure many people do have a solution to it. My only suggestion would be to see what you can do without Adobe and see if there are any alternative solutions.  Unfortunately in the newspaper industry many of us have bought into the Adobe family and are now stuck with this.

Two things to consider when evaluating the cloud

Cloud this and cloud that is all of the rage right now.  And it probably will be for a few more years.  Hopefully your not one of these people that just jumps into something because it’s new and all the rage.  Here’s a few of my personal thoughts about the cloud as the director of IT for a small business.

The cloud make sense for off sites backups.  Most small business’s are not going to want to spend the money to setup an off site backup in another location. And lets face it…trucking tapes or hard drives off site will work but you’ve got to remember to do it each month. If you don’t your screwed.  So having an automated process to ship it to Amazon or Google or whoever your cloud provider is makes sense.  It’s automated and it’s probably backed up to a few different locations.

If you are just getting started with a web site or an app, the cloud makes sense.  You don’t have to buy a server and a co-location service, which can cost a lot out of the pocket.  Even if your app or website takes off you can probably still use those services, but beware that at some point it’s going to make more sense to buy a server and find a co-location service.  I’m not yet convinced that going to the cloud for a large scale is the way to go.  Think about it.  You can buy a server for say $5,000.  You can get a co-location facility for, well I’m not 100% sure what the month cost is.  But just do your math to see where the break even point is.  Maybe hardware is not something that you want to deal with and money isn’t an issue. Then by all means the cloud does make sense.  On the flip side if you don’t need to push the boundaries on computing power and you run your servers past their service end date, then I don’t think the cloud is needed.

These are just two things that I think of when I think of cloud computing for a small business.  I’m sure there are others, but these two should be near the top of your list for consideration.


Speed up your wireless network

Wifi Analyzer Screenshots

Just sitting down to watch that new movie on Netflix and it’s on Super HD (what is that by the way?).  And it starts and then it stops.  And starts and stops.  Yeah I haven’t had that happen to me in quite sometime due to what I’m going to suggest below.

The first couple of things I always suggest are:

  • Make sure you have updated your wireless router
  • Make sure that a password is required to get on your network
  • Don’t broadcast your SSID

Most people have done two of those 3 options already, so this next one is the frosting on top.

  • Change the channel that your wireless is broadcast on.

Huh, you might be asking yourself.

Well most wireless routers default to channel 6 for broadcasting. And if everyone is coming over that channel your going to have crashes and collisions with packets.  So move the channel from 6 to another one.  You can get this app on your Android phone or tablet that will tell you what the best option is.  I think there is one for you iPhone users out there, but I don’t know what it is.

Since I made this change on our router I’ve not had Netflix or Amazon Prime ‘pause’ on us due to speed.  It’s been AWESOME.  Cause honestly it was pretty bad for awhile.

if you know of any other tips/tricks for getting more out of your wireless I’m all ears.

Finally a tablet owner!

You could say I’ve been behind the times.  I suppose it’s true, but no longer can you say that.  I have finally entered the tablet generation.

I managed to save enough shekels to purchase the new Google Nexus 7 2nd Generation.  I went back and forth between the Nexus and the new Amazon Kindle HDX and I was really close to holding out for the HDX.  But I didn’t.  My main reason for not waiting on the HDX, and this may sound silly depending on where Google goes, is that I didn’t want to be locked into a watered down version of Android.  I’ve already got a phone that’s kind of crappy, due to in my opinion, Verizon’s extra stuff.  I could root it, I suppose, but I haven’t.

So I’ve had the Nexus for about a week now. As much as I’d like to say it’s done something out of this world it hasn’t.  It basically confirmed what I thought about tablets since the beginning.  In most cases they are entertainment devices.  And that’s basically what I’ve done with it.  It’s not going to replace a laptop or a desktop unless I go to some big extremes.  But it has allowed me to play some games I wouldn’t have played other wise.  So games, Facebook, Fantasy Football App and various other things, but nothing that’s just made me want to scream and shout “Everyone must get a tablet. They are the awesomest!”  Now my view may change on that, but for now…I could do with out.

What’s been your thoughts on tablets?

Recovering a machine with Acronis

We had one of our server crash this last weekend.  Thankfully there was a spare, so we didn’t need to come in over the weekend.  But on Monday we set about getting the broken machine back up and running.

On an external machine we had a Acronis backup of the machine from February 2012, which might sound like a lot, but this machine doesn’t change much if at all (other than Windows updates it doesn’t!).  So I set about recovering the data.  First I downloaded at 15 day trial of Acronis (think you!) and got it installed.  Here’s a few things we ran into that might help you out in a pinch!

  • Our backup was from a fairly old version of Acronis…the new version still worked…so version’s don’t appear to be an issue.
  • Copy the backup files to your C: drive or a drive that not be removed to image the new drive (see below!)
  • Acronis might not recognize your backup.  Keep trying.  It’s there. When I initially installed the external drive it wouldn’t find it. Through trying many times it did find it.
  • If you are restoring to a new hard drive, such as what we did, don’t restore to a ‘caged drive’ (ie: a drive that is hooked up through USB in a cage).  You’ll need to physically install the drive into your system.  This has to do with the byte sectors.  It appears that if you try and do this through a USB attached device you can’t do 512 which is what Acronis uses.
  • When restoring make sure that you modify your drive selections so one doesn’t take up the whole drive (ie: don’t get in a hurry…slow down and check stuff).  I had a problem restoring all of the drive partitions (3 total). Eventually I got it figured out and I “selected” were each partition should start and stop and what size.  When I did that things worked great.

I’m not going to call this one a point, but just point it out.  If you’ve backed up from a server/computer that is on Active Directory you might have issues getting it back in your domain.  This has to do with the security ID.  I’m not sure what causes this issue, if it’s because we installed a new hard drive or what the deal is.  In the end we removed the computer from Active Directory (initially did this and banged our heads against the wall for a few hours!) and then added it back into Active Directory by hand (create a new computer object).  Once we did the manual creation of the computer in Active Directory we were in luck.  One other thing that might help, but I can’t confirm, is that having a boot media for the crashed hard drive might help as well.

Acronis really bailed us out, however it requires some other information (in my haste I didn’t read anything…just jumped in. So maybe if I’d read something I wouldn’t have used about 11 hours to recover this machine!)