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Adobe!?!? January 22, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in computers.

Climbing on my soap box…

My mother has used computers for 30 years – or something close to that. Windows almost exclusively. At work she used it mostly for word processing and writing books – she was an English professor at Rutgers. She can’t spell either – the difference between her and me? She made sure she learned how to spell. 🙂

At any rate — she is comfortable with computers, but not a power user. Now that she has retired she has taken up birding and photography in a big way. There are amazing pictures all around our house – she enters contests as well. My sister and I and Dad are all working on her to get a flickr (or similar) account. You’ll be impressed (if they are ever posted online).

She just got the new D300 last week. She takes pictures in RAW format and the program she uses – Adobe’s Photoshop Elements — needed an update in order to read new new D300 RAW format. Adobe already has this update available. Cool!

Except… First thing she did was download the file. She then looked at the web site for installation instructions and saw the link to a PDF file. Only, when she clicked on it it brought up the warning “Are you sure you want to run acrobat reader? This program has known incompatibilities with Vista!” I have no idea what program installed that old version of Acrobat reader on her brand spanking new Dell Vista portable, but Mom decided that no, she didn’t want to run something that might break things. So, she proceeded without installation instructions. As it turns out, the installation instructions are both in the PDF file and also down at the bottom of the HTML page (why do this?? Why have a special PDF link when HTML will work??).

The downloaded ZIP file contained only a “Cammera Raw.8bi” file. No readme file. Why not include the readme file in that!?? So my mother tried double click it. Guess what — it opens the photo shop elements picture editor! And in doing so it doesn’t install the new Camera Raw file! What is the point of that other than to really confuse people!? Why not include a double-click to install file? That is 15 lines of open source XML code to do that!

Finally, she tried copying it into the Photoshop Elements directory (she didn’t realize how close she was!). Of course, that didn’t work. At that point she called me. We eventually got the file into the Plug-ins\File Formats directory. I really don’t know why Adobe made her do it – it was definitely not something she was comfortable doing, and Adobe’s Photoshop Elements product is aimed at the casual computer user, not the power user. Adobe is a big company – they produce some excellent products. They can do better when it comes to things like this.

Ok, getting off my soapbox.



1. Joseph - January 22, 2008

That you have to install a special file format reader at all is crap, and the fault of the camera companies. Why each camera and vendor has to have its own, secret, even *encrypted* file format is beyond me. Apparently you don’t *need* to have full access to your own files.

In a similar vein, maybe I’m overly paranoid, but the error message you mention reminds me so much of the infamous DR-DOS (competitor to Microsoft’s MS-DOS) errors under Windows 3.1: http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/11/05/how_ms_played_the_incompatibility/
Given how Microsoft is going for Adobe’s jugular (Silverlight vs Flash, XPS vs PDF) and their past behavior, I’d not be shocked.

2. gordonwatts - January 22, 2008

Hi Joseph, Given the camera is firmware and ever CCD sensor is different, and each complex camera is complex in a different way, I’d be more inclinded to forgive the camera companies on format adjustments.

As far as the known incompatibilities — Adobe fixed the free reader fairly quickly — you have to upgrade (which means you now have adds in your PDF reader). If you have the pay version then you have to buy a new format. But there is no way this would deter people from using PDF — it is everywhere. Also, the number of free readers that are smaller and faster than Adobe PDF is, well large. But I don’t know exactly what bit of Adobe is incompatible with Vista.

3. carlbrannen - January 23, 2008

For your mother, the technology of book production has advanced to the point that you can print your own photo books at Lulu.com. The price is quite reasonable. I think it’s 6 cents a page for color, 2 cents for black and white. This should open a new market in specialty physics books like my book on density matrices as they can be sold on Amazon for a fee of about $100. (I’m no where near ready.)

But the basic idea is that the books are printed on demand, so your first copy of a hard bound color photo book with 200 pages should cost well under $30. And that is on nice paper that should last a lot longer than a CD. It’s quite easy to do and the results are amazingly impressive.

4. gordonwatts - January 23, 2008

Carl — that is fantastic! I’d not heard of that yet. I’m going to check it out!

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