Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Adobe Creative Cloud 1 - First Impressions

Adobe is really launching the Creative Cloud with CS6.  I decided to have a look.  I'm a very long-term power user of Adobe products, so I have been very curious to see what the Creative Cloud is all about.

The first thing you have to deal with (note that I didn't say "enjoy") is the Adobe Application Manager.  It's a little bit better than its predecessor, but stills seems to think that it is better about downloading apps than, say, the browser. I'm not sure I agree.  It also has some issues (see below).

I have a pretty strong feeling that it brought down my internet connection, which is normally rock solid.  I clicked on a large number of apps to download (who wouldn't, with a new Cloud offering?), and after a few minutes and one successful download/install, the internet connection was hung up so badly that I had to hard reset the Comcast router.  Maybe that was a coincidence.  I started a whole bunch of downloads after reboot, to see.

The next thing I noticed is that two of the apps that I downloaded -- directly from Adobe -- needed updates immediately after I downloaded them!  What's up with that?!

Adobe Lightroom 4.4 shows that it downloaded, but the "Launch App" link is grayed out, and the app seems not to be present in the Applications folder (!?).

This is a fairly major problem because (1) it seems not to have installed the app, and (2) I can't click "Install" because there is no Install link.  Re-launching the Application Manager shows Lightroom 4.4 as "Up to date" but it's not in Applications and I don't believe it's installed.  This seems like a MAJOR BUG.  IT also shows Photoshop and Illustrator and Flash Professional and Premiere all need Updates.  Aaaargh!  I *just* downloaded them, guys!

The installer should have links that take you to a page describing these apps.  I didn't know what Prelude was, or Muse, or Audition, and there was no way to find out from the Application Manager, which is where I was making the download decisions.  The Application Manager also has a fixed-size window.  Why?  It has a scroll bar (more content than will fit) and I have a huge screen. It's annoying to have to scroll to see things that I have plenty of room to see.  How hard is it to make the window resizable?  They even disable the green "maximize" button, which is harder to do, programmatically, than to actually make the window resizable.  And the names of three of their apps don't fit in the window without ellipses (...), which would display easily if I could resize the window (see screen shot above).  A little thing, perhaps, but after 25+ years of app development, you'd think Adobe would be leading the way on UX design, not trailing behind the pack on basic usability issues.

The next thing I noticed is that Dreamweaver CS6 is a lot like CS5.  A lot.  I'm not a big Dw user, but I haven't noticed any differences at all so far.  It's the first app that downloaded so it's the first I'm trying out.  I'll try some of the others.

Hmmm.  There are some serious glitches in mainstay applications that I discover within seconds of using them:

  • If you drag a file onto Photoshop to open it, the app launches but does not open the file.  This behavior has worked (on the Mac) for 20 years. After it is running, if I drop the same file onto Photoshop, it opens.  Bug.
  • The cursor in Illustrator displays with a really bad artifact.  I suspect it's because my "graphics card is not supported", which I learned from Photoshop, but not from Illustrator.  I have a Mac Pro that is about six years old, and works with literally every other app that I have ever tried.  Sorry, Adobe, but "fail".  Below this list is a screen shot of the cursor artifact.  Unusable, right?

All in all, I'm not terribly impressed by the quality of this major release.  Luckily I still have my CS5 apps installed.  I think I'll be going back to them, and possibly canceling my subscription -- a definite downside to the subscription model.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Starbucks Pisses Me Off [and is forgiven]

I have been a VERY loyal Starbucks customer for many years, as anyone who knows me will attest. I say good things about them.  I am a brand ambassador for them.  I go to Starbucks every day, though I took a few months off for health reasons at the end of last year.

My drink for the past couple of years has been a "triple short no-whip mocha" which seems to fall into the cracks of their policies, because I like a small amount of milk, but it costs as much as a Venti with 3 shots.  I pay $4.65 for an 8-ounce coffee drink.  Every day.  By conservative estimate, I spend about $1500/year at Starbucks.

But that's not what I'm pissed about.  That's just background.

A few years back, I bought a Gold Card when they cost $25.  It gave me a 10% discount on all purchases.  I loved it.

Since then, I've watched as they changed the "rewards program" to reward me less and less for my loyalty.  First they got rid of the 10% discount in favor of a free drink every time you bought 10 drinks, but they mailed you a post card to redeem to freebie, knowing that few people would get it together to redeem the post cards. Then it was 12 drinks, now I think it is up to 13 drinks.  But it gets worse.

There now is some kind of minimum threshold you have to meet to maintain "gold status", which is 30 stars within some time frame.  As if somehow I am no longer a "gold customer", which by most retail standards I certainly am.  They have my history in their little computers, since I always use my card (now the app) for my purchases.

Here's what pisses me off.  Yesterday I was getting close to a free drink, I noticed in the little app.  Two more stars to go.  Woo hoo!  Today I bought a $4.65 mocha, a panini sandwich, and a water, and used my app to pay....

I got an incredibly unfriendly alert that popped up and said, "You have failed to meet the minimum criteria to maintain membership.  Your reward stars have been reset to 0."

I stared at it in disbelief.  This is how they reward their best customers!  Gamification is one thing, but actually penalizing me for not earning 30 stars in some arbitrary amount of time -- and how exactly am I supposed to do that if you reset my count to 0?

This is appalling to me, and actually made me upset, right there at the cash register.  I got totally, completely pissed off at Starbucks, and vowed to boycott them.

Is that what you want with your "Rewards" program, Starbucks?  To piss off one of your best customers with your little star program, to the point where he doesn't want to come back into your stores, and will be considering Peet's or some other worthy competitor from now on?

Congratulations to your brain-dead rewards marketing team for totally screwing up what once really did feel like a "gold" program, and made me happy to buy coffee at absurdly inflated prices.  No more.  No more.

[Epilogue/update: 5/2/13]

A friend happened to post something on Starbucks wall at almost the same time yesterday that I posted this, complaining in almost the same way about no longer wanting to remain loyal to Starbucks.  I put a comment on her post, mentioning this blog entry.  I think a Starbucks employee must have read my comment, and this blog post, because I got the below email today.  I am undecided whether or not this suggests great customer service and I am happy again (a possibility) or whether it is impersonal (no actual contact from customer service, just this email) and lame and would not have happened had I not complained publicly.  Whether or not I am Gold is somewhat beside the point -- they need to seriously revisit the reward system because it is not, in fact, set up to reward actual loyal customers; it's more like a video game where you can periodically get a "game over" screen and have to replay the whole level.  Who wants that in a coffee rewards system?

My Starbucks Rewards? Rewards Status Check Balance Reload a Card Send an eGift
Here's to another glowing year at Gold. Raise a mug to celebrate.
Thanks for staying. The 30 Stars you earned keeps you at the Gold level another year. Here's to another year of rewards galore.

You're on a roll, so keep earning those Stars. Another 30 within a year keeps you at Gold level for yet another year. We're hoping this will be a happily ever after type of thing.

[Epilogue/update: 5/22/13]

I've decided I forgive Starbucks, and have reloaded my card twice since posting this article.  The baristas are great, and overall it's a great company.