The Thunderstorm in Adobe’s Cloud

(commentary)

We have two things to discuss today. First, the problems that arose with the monolithic Creative Cloud 2015 release this week. Second, the implications on users for the future.

So far the problems are varied, somewhat widespread, and have hit a lot of users in various ways:

  • One big problem is that people who just purchased Lightroom 6 (standalone) find that almost immediately Adobe has diverged Lightroom CC with a new feature. If nothing else, Adobe was disingenuous with some of their responses when they announced Lightroom 6/CC. It seems clear now that new features won’t make it into the packaged software version, while they will with download version. That’s just as it was with Photoshop CS6/CC, only this time there’s a bigger, more consumer, more vocal crowd calling foul. 

    Ironically, since Lightroom is really just a database, what’s missing in the standalone release isn’t hard coded processing, but some data files and some UI. You can mimic the Dehaze function by just creating a series of Presets, then going into the Presets files with a text editor, and changing some settings. I’m sure some enterprising person with some time on their hand will soon create Dehaze presets from -100 to 100. This only works with Lightroom 6.1, though. Lightroom 5.x users can’t do this because the underlying code needed doesn’t exist in that version.

    Apparently you can the same thing for ACR 9.1 if you have CS6. Instead of Presets, you use Settings. But the same thing is true: go in with text editor and change data in the Settings file to enable the Dehaze component. You’ll need Settings for each Dehaze value you want to use. See this thread at dpreview for more details. If you Google around, you’ll find that a number of places have already created downloadable versions of the presets. One such set exists at ProLost.

  • Apparently Adobe forgot to put the Adobe Standard style for some cameras—in particular the Nikon D810—into the files loaded with the CC 2015, which has the impact of the wrong style being used in previously processed images. For Lightroom users, this is a temporary visual disruption only, as Lightroom is non-destructive. So once the right file is restored, things will be fine. However, the file is also missing in Adobe Raw Converter, meaning that if you go to convert new D810 images with Photoshop, you’ve got a problem. If you get hit with this, go to Adobe’s page with the solution.

  • Plug-ins continue to be an issue. Not all Plug-ins will work with CC 2015. Thus, Adobe leaves Plug-ins behind in CC 2014 when they install the new version. You have to manually copy the Plug-ins that work to the appropriate folder in the new version (or reinstall the Plug-ins if they have an installer). 

  • Some users are getting error messages, particularly Error 21, but others as well. The usual Adobe suggestions apply: sign out and sign back into your Adobe account, or uninstall everything Adobe and reinstall (yuck). But those things don’t seem to work for everyone, and I’m working with at least one person who hasn’t been able to get Adobe Tech Support to solve their problem, either. Personally, I’ve started doing the following on one of my machines: remove all trace of any Adobe product (including all the hidden and licensing files), boot in Safe Mode, then do just an install of the new product(s) I want. Most of the folk complaining about install problems are long-time Adobe users, and I suspect that they (and I) are seeing built-up deposits on our headers, oh wait, that’s the Honda. Uh, extra junk left behind. 


But to me, there’s a bigger issue that’s starting to raise it’s head. The recent XARA exploit on Apple OS’s is just a precursor to the sorts of things we should be paranoid about. Simply put, the Adobe Cloud option and Adobe’s constant updating leaves us with two giant vulnerabilities:

  1. Virtually every new version coming down the pike is creating install issues of some sort or another. You certainly can’t leave any auto install option on, or else you risk your work system going from stable to unusable and then you’ll spend hours, maybe days, trying to get back to where you were. I really don’t know how big organizations are dealing with this Adobe constant cloud upgrade thing. Given how poor we all think Adobe’s installers are, I actually want to minimize the number of times I use them, not maximize them. Every time there’s any change with anything in the Adobe Creative Cloud, the Adobe installer is writing to my drive. This seems to happen multiple times a week these days. That’s even if I’m not installing anything. Many of us are starting to block all those calling home changes. Recommendation: sign out of your Adobe account except when CC says it needs to connect to confirm service again, or use something like Little Snitch (Macintosh) to block on-going communications to the Adobe cloud.
  2. The Internet itself is getting scary. Zero Day exploits are getting published (witness XARA) before companies respond to them (and Apple, why the hell didn’t you respond during the six months you’ve known about it?). Thus, I actually want to take my main work system completely off line now. Just get it fully stable with my primary apps and disconnect it, then use a dedicated laptop for email, Web browsing, and site updating. But with Creative Cloud, you can’t really do that, as it wants to check in, and if I let it check in, everyone else wants to check in, too. There’s no perfect answer here, but the more connected you are from a single system, the more vulnerable you are. Adobe, in particular, has a pretty poor reputation for security (witness the constant PDF and Flash exploits that need patching).  

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