Activation Gripe: And maybe some advice to laptop users

DP
Posted By
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 2, 2004
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746
Replies
24
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Closed
Hello all,

First, the advice…whether certain of its necessity or not:

If installing Photoshop CS on a laptop, I suggest that before activating it you first shut down the laptop and then remove all modular periperhals that aren’t required for connection to the internet. That is, any modular CD/DVD bays, PC cards, etc. Then, reboot and proceed with the activation. Why? To isolate activation to using only the IDs (or whatever) of "fixed" hardware components in establishing the activation key for the system.

I’m not sure of this, but it may be that if you activate PS CS on a laptop while any peripheral hardware is installed, you run the risk of that hardware being tied to the activation process and any subsequent reactivation might fail. I say "might" because supposedly one or two changes in the h/w configuration shouldn’t affect activation, but I’m no longer certain of that.

And now, the gripe…

This is not true only of Adobe, but of any software company requiring product activation: Users of the software are apt to use the software any time of day, 24/7. If that software fails with some error requiring reactivation, then the manufacturer should provide full support for reactivation, up to and including personal support also on a 24/7 basis.

I’ve seen that isn’t the case with Adobe. On this late Sunday night, around 1am, I find PS CS giving me a notice of activation being required, as the 30-day grace period has expired. This comes on my laptop, my second permissible activated computer, which I first activated PS CS on a couple of months ago. When I attempted reactivation via the internet, activation was denied. On the automated phone system, the same was true. The next step then was personal support by phone…only to learn that such support is provided only from 6am-8pm Pacific Standard Time, 7 days per week. While I’d normally consider such hours reasonably generous, I do not consider that true when the software is non-functional for reasons of activation issues.

Why did this happen? I’m not sure, but I’ll attribute it to something similar to the bug of reactivation being required after using System Restore. Specifically, odd problems with Internet Explorer found me deciding to revert my laptop back to an older system image I’d made using Drive Image in 2002. So, first I created a "2004" image of my current system, and then replaced my system partition with the 2002 image. Beginning to uninstall older applications and install newer ones, I saw more work was ahead of me than expected, so I reverted back to the 2004 image. Technically, nothing should have been different about my laptop from the state it was originally in before I restored the 2002 image. PS CS should have already been in an activated state, and it should have run just fine after restoring the 2004 image. No such luck though, and worse yet was being denied activation. This was unlike where I went through various reactivations on my desktop PC without a hitch.

Thinking through what might be wrong, the idea came to me that I was running my PC in a lesser configuration than when I activated it. Namely, my SlimSCSI card was not installed and my CD-RW drive had been swapped out with my DVD drive. So, I re-established the hardware configuration applicable at the time when PS CS was first activated and then attempted reactivation. Still, no luck. Even as that failed to provide a solution, I do think it merits consideration when one is activating PS CS on a laptop, hence my earlier advice.

My final effort was to see if an Advanced Uninstall and reinstall of PS CS would work. As expected, it did not.

So, all I can say is activation is a pain…especially when one can’t reactivate and has no personal support available to immediately get PS CS back up and running. With no help from Adobe, but rather from a third party, all is well now, and therein lies the "Paradox".

Regards,

Daryl

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TE
Tin Ear
Feb 2, 2004
wrote in message
Hello all,

First, the advice…whether certain of its necessity or not:
If installing Photoshop CS on a laptop, I suggest that before activating
it you first shut down the laptop and then remove all modular periperhals that aren’t required for connection to the internet. That is, any modular CD/DVD bays, PC cards, etc. Then, reboot and proceed with the activation. Why? To isolate activation to using only the IDs (or whatever) of "fixed" hardware components in establishing the activation key for the system.
I’m not sure of this, but it may be that if you activate PS CS on a laptop
while any peripheral hardware is installed, you run the risk of that hardware being tied to the activation process and any subsequent reactivation might fail. I say "might" because supposedly one or two changes in the h/w configuration shouldn’t affect activation, but I’m no longer certain of that.

Interesting logic, but won’t the reverse also effect your activation? That is, if you activate without any modular peripherals attached, will the activation fail if you then boot the system with all your goodies? This could be a different enough configuration.

I’m neutral on the activation thing. I don’t know how Adobe checks the validity, but from a thread posted in a Microsoft XP newsgroup, I learned that XP builds a check list of 10 things in your system. Once XP is activated, as long as 7 out of 10 markers agree, your activation holds. Change 4 things and your activation fails. With XP, actication is also moot after 120 days. How many peripherals do you sometimes plug into your laptop?

And now, the gripe…

This is not true only of Adobe, but of any software company requiring
product activation: Users of the software are apt to use the software any time of day, 24/7. If that software fails with some error requiring reactivation, then the manufacturer should provide full support for reactivation, up to and including personal support also on a 24/7 basis.
I’ve seen that isn’t the case with Adobe. On this late Sunday night,
around 1am, I find PS CS giving me a notice of activation being required, as the 30-day grace period has expired. This comes on my laptop, my second permissible activated computer, which I first activated PS CS on a couple of months ago. When I attempted reactivation via the internet, activation was denied. On the automated phone system, the same was true. The next step then was personal support by phone…only to learn that such support is provided only from 6am-8pm Pacific Standard Time, 7 days per week. While I’d normally consider such hours reasonably generous, I do not consider that true when the software is non-functional for reasons of activation issues.
Why did this happen? I’m not sure, but I’ll attribute it to something
similar to the bug of reactivation being required after using System Restore. Specifically, odd problems with Internet Explorer found me deciding to revert my laptop back to an older system image I’d made using Drive Image in 2002. So, first I created a "2004" image of my current system, and then replaced my system partition with the 2002 image. Beginning to uninstall older applications and install newer ones, I saw more work was ahead of me than expected, so I reverted back to the 2004 image. Technically, nothing should have been different about my laptop from the state it was originally in before I restored the 2002 image. PS CS should have already been in an activated state, and it should have run just fine after restoring the 2004 image. No such luck though, and worse yet was being denied activation. This was unlike where I went through various reactivations on my desktop PC without a hitch.
Thinking through what might be wrong, the idea came to me that I was
running my PC in a lesser configuration than when I activated it. Namely, my SlimSCSI card was not installed and my CD-RW drive had been swapped out with my DVD drive. So, I re-established the hardware configuration applicable at the time when PS CS was first activated and then attempted reactivation. Still, no luck. Even as that failed to provide a solution, I do think it merits consideration when one is activating PS CS on a laptop, hence my earlier advice.
My final effort was to see if an Advanced Uninstall and reinstall of PS CS
would work. As expected, it did not.
So, all I can say is activation is a pain…especially when one can’t
reactivate and has no personal support available to immediately get PS CS back up and running. With no help from Adobe, but rather from a third party, all is well now, and therein lies the "Paradox".
I’m surprised you could not get activation over the Internet. I seem to recall doing my installation "in the wee hours" as I habitually work late and had no problems activating my copy. I am also on a desktop, not a laptop, but I don’t think that has any bearing on the activation. Could it be that since your serial number was activated once, the activation ‘bots, or what ever, thought this might be an attempt at circumventing the activation scheme and this was a second installation on an unlicensed machine? Remember, I’m on your side here, I agree that as a legitimate user you should not have had this problem. Have you contacted Adobe about this and what was their response.
DM
dave_milbut
Feb 2, 2004
<not really funny anymore>"But Daryl, it’s just that the sky is falling."</not really funny anymore>

That story really sux Daryl. I don’t know what to say except good luck, and anyone with a bit of foresight has seen this kind of scenario coming from day 1. What do all the chicken little nay-sayers have to say about this?

comiseratingly,

dave
V
viol8ion
Feb 2, 2004
What do all the chicken little nay-sayers have to say about this?

It’s just one person out of thousands of happy, unaffected customers… so who cares? The important thing is that Adbe has made a statement, while doing nothing to prevent piracy.
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 2, 2004
OK, all is well now…Although I had a working solution, I did go ahead and call Adobe. To my surprise, I actually got someone pretty quickly on the line, so perhaps Adobe does at least give priority on activation calls rather than leaving customers on hold.

No questions were asked other than for the usual serial number and activation key, so I questioned the woman assisting me as to why I was denied activation. Her reply was that since this was an installation on my 2nd computer, the activation process apparently saw something had failed such as my hard drive, and it read this to be a 3rd installation, hence the denied activation.

Pretty much what I expected…what I’m calling a variation on the System Restore bug. I described may scenario from last night to the support person, and pretty much she didn’t seem interested so much as she feigned listening to me so that in the end she could just repeat that yes, it sounds like the activation process saw a bad hard drive. To my knowledge, the way I restored the drive image should not have affected the hidden sector where the hard drive hash is written, but perhaps that did happen. Nonetheless, with a restored registry and supposedly the other "third area" where the activation record is written being presumably restored with the drive image, there should have been 2 of 3 checks in place that would permit reactivation.

Now, as I wasn’t using my laptop on an assignment somewhere as a working professional who needed Photoshop right then and there, I’m not terribly concerned. But, the fact that a problem did arise would be unacceptable had I been that reporter on a deadline, or other such person. Again, one viable solution is to maintain a secondary installation of some other version of Photoshop, or use an activation crack until reactivation can be accommodated with personal support. I took the latter approach last night.

Whenever a dot release is issued, I hope Adobe has resolved the activation bugs. Or maybe they’ll recognize the wisdom in not using an activation scheme, thus following Intuit’s lead in re-establishing a happier customer base. I rather doubt that however, given that Photoshop is a much more costly application than Turbo Tax 2002 was.

Regards,

Daryl
KL
Katherine_Lawson
Feb 2, 2004
I’m glad you found a solution Daryl. The fact that a person could be on a business trip, all ready to open some important files to work on with a big client, when the activation thing comes up at 1 a.m. Pacific Time is a very very big concern.

It still doesn’t seem right to me that honest users are being forced to use cracks in order to use their legal versions of PSCS.

(No, I haven’t got a cracked version, I’m too scared of those sleazy websites to download one, and no, my legal version still isn’t working).

Dave, I know you keep telling me to reformat, but then what will happen to my updated subscriptions to other services like Norton? I did reformat just before I bought the Creative Suite, and it didn’t help then. Anyway Dave, I am considering it, I just need time to make sure that I have everything backed up, so don’t mention it again this time, okay? Because I’ve been hearing you! 🙂
DM
dave_milbut
Feb 2, 2004
so don’t mention it again this time, okay?

k. 🙂
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 2, 2004
Katherine,

If you ultimately decide to try reformatting your hard drive to attack your problems with PS CS, I’d suggest also performing a low-level drive format using the BIOS utilities. That will ensure the drive is erased fully, inclusive of the hidden sectors where activation hashes are stored. Keep in mind that if you have multiple partitions, ALL data across those partitions would require being backed up if you want to keep it.

During some PS CS troubleshooting I went through on my desktop PC, I did go so far as a low-level drive format. It worked fine and reinstallation of PS CS gave me the 30-day grace period to activate. I don’t know if I’d have received a denied activation had I previously activated PS CS on my system prior to the reformat, but that is possible based upon my observations last night. Technically, denied activation should NEVER occur for a system that has not undergone any change of hardware from when PS CS was first activated on the system.

As for your concerns regarding Norton subscriptions, if you’re running the 2004 versions, I don’t know how smoothly Norton’s reactivation works. But, for 2003 and earlier versions where there is simply a record of when the software was installed that is used to establish when your virus-update subscription expires, you should be in good shape. I’ve observed before that a clean reinstall of NAV will report a new subscription period as if no subscription had previously applied.

Regards,

Daryl
P
Phosphor
Feb 2, 2004
I agree with Katherine.

Instead of wasting your time (and Adobe’s), just downlaod the activation fix, and get back to work.
RL
Robert_Levine
Feb 2, 2004
It’s not a fix. It’s an illegal hack.

Bob
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 2, 2004
Well, I’m of mixed opinions on this whole activation business. I mentioned my use of the crack, because as a legitimate owner of PS CS, I feel fully justified in using the crack when the need warrants it…which is rare to never for me. Last night I could’ve easily gone and used my desktop system but was obviously irritated that I was denied the right to use PS CS on my laptop. The crack is easy enough to enable/disable, so I went that route. I also believe it is useful information for other legal owners of PS CS to be aware that a working crack exists, but I leave it to them to find it on their own. Use of an activation crack in concert with abiding by all stipulations of the EULA with exception of the software modification statements will not cost any loss of profits to Adobe. I don’t like activation but understand the need for it and pretty much am willing to go along with the process, provided that the kinks are worked out, as I expect Adobe will eventually do. In other words, if you use the software, then pay for it and use it per the EULA like all legitimate users do, but if it has problems that a crack will fix, then by all means "fix" it until Adobe does. Enough said…I know we’ve all beaten this issue to death.

My two primary points from my original post are these: (1) If the manufacturer of an application requires activation, they should be available at all hours during which the application might be used (in other words, 24/7), to assist with reactivation if that becomes necessary. (2) If you have a laptop, remove unneeded h/w devices and peripherals before activating PSCS on it, so that activation only uses the less easily removed h/w components in generating an activation key.

Regards,

Daryl
MM
Mick_Murphy
Feb 2, 2004
Daryl,

I can totally sympathise with your frustration as a legitimate user that some sort of bug in the activation process leads to this situation. I am however very surprised that you would use something as dubious in origin as the activation crack on your machine except perhaps in a case of a real emergency. However, the main thing I see from this is that perhaps the whole activation process is completely pointless if it is that easy to overcome. If anybody get get their hands on this so easily, then the only people it is really affecting are the legitimate customers when things go wrong.

I also totally agree with your point 1 in relation to 24/7 availability. If software activation is going to save the company millions (this is the assumption at least), then they should provide for their legitimate customers. I am genuinely surprised that Adobe has not set up 24/7 contingency, given the company’s generally positive attitude towards its customers. I’ve had to reactivate Microsoft software by phone at some unearthly hours on a few occasions and I never had a problem. I would have been very mad if I hadn’t been able to do so.

I would also question your assumption about the peripherals affecting the activation. I’ve changed most of desktop machine since I first installed CS (processor, motherboard – same model -, memory several times, added a hard drive) and it has not required reactivation. The only thing that has done is System Restore.
RL
Robert_Levine
Feb 3, 2004
Daryl,

For the record, I wasn’t taking you up on your statement. It the fact that "member" called a fix instead of what it really is that I had an issue with.

Bob
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 3, 2004
Hi Mick,

I don’t want to say too much about software of "dubious origin", because I’m not here to encourage others to install it, unless they are willing to assume the requisite risks in doing so. But, given that I had two system images to rebuild my PC from last night, I wasn’t concerned about any risk.

I don’t really think the hardware configuration of my laptop affected the failure of being able to reactivate or of having activation denied. Rather, I think the problems lies solely with current flaws in the activation process for PS CS as related to any sort of system restoration. But, not knowing what could cause problems with activation, the thought came to me that there are preventative measures one could easily take with a laptop to reduce the risk of activation key generation being associated with readily removeable components.

Fortunately Adobe does have 24/7 automated support for internet or phone-based activation but that does not apply to denied activation, and therein lies the problem. As I reported, I was also happy to find that personal assistance was obtained quickly with no wait at all this morning…perhaps 15-20 minutes after business hours resumed. Hopefully the same is true anytime within the 6am-10pm, 7-day window of operation, but the 10pm-6am window needs to also be "open" with personal support for activation issues that the automated system can’t handle.

Bob,

Thanks…I realize your comment was directed at "member". I think I just needed to see some words like yours to trigger that last little bit of "venting" that this mess with activation deserves. 🙂

Cheers,

Daryl
KL
Katherine_Lawson
Feb 3, 2004
Hi Daryl,

I’ve never tried the kind of reformat you mentioned using the BIOS utilities. I do have a second hard drive to back things up on, I just never seem to be able to find the time to reformat. I will look into that. (I do have multiple partitions, so it would require more work than usual if I did that).

I’m not too worried about reactivating, at least for a while I was on unlimited because I was installing and unistalling so often, but even if I’m not unlimited any more, I don’t think I would have any problems with Adobe when I try to activate since they know what is going on with my machine.

About Norton, my version is 2003. I recently renewed my update subscription rather than purchasing the whole program. Where I’ve had so many problems with PSCS’s activation, I decided that I didn’t want to risk not being able to run Norton if I had problems with their’s too. (I also let them know why I didn’t purchase 2004. This activation stuff really stinks).

I know what I really need is a newer computer, but I was hoping on holding off until next summer when I can sell some more of my photography. (I’m on an island in Maine, waaaaay down east, so pickings are pretty slim here until the summer people arrive). 😉

My present computer is only PIII 650 Mhz with the maximum of 384 mb of RAM. Atleast PS 6.01 still works on it, and so do Illustrator and InDesign, so I’m not completely stuck.

Kathi
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 3, 2004
Kati,

I can pretty well relate to what you said, especially the last part…I’m running a 550MHz PIII system, but at least that it is dual processors helps some, as does 1.5GB of RAM. I think renewing the 2003 version of NAV is better than going with 2004, as not only is the activation a nuisance but a demo of it showed me that NAV2004 is extremely resource hungry…too much so for my system and I’m sure that true for yours.

I’ve not rebooted my system to confirm this, but as I gave more thought to the BIOS utility for reformatting the drive, that may uniquely have been features of the SCSI BIOS and not the motherboard BIOS itself. Regardless, even if not a feature of the BIOS, the drive manufacturers often have their own low-level formatting programs that can be run from a floppy.

If you’re keeping Adobe apprised of your issues, I agree, they should be able to accommodate any activation problems you might encounter.

Good luck,

Daryl
V
viol8ion
Feb 3, 2004
As I reported, I was also happy to find that personal assistance was obtained quickly with no wait at all this morning…perhaps 15-20 minutes after business hours resumed.

15-20 minutes is WAY TOO LONG TO WAIT ON HOLD! I am sorry, but I HATE being on hold with companies that I have to do so for, such as my mortgage company, cable company, etc. It is unconscionable to force customers to WAIT when all other options have been tried, my time is valuable. It always pisses me off that corporate America has so little regard for their customers’ time.
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 3, 2004
Perhaps I should’ve worded that differently…

Viol8tion, what I meant was that I called Adobe about 15-20 minutes after the start of their business hours and I was promptly talking to live support.

Regards,

Daryl
V
viol8ion
Feb 3, 2004
Viol8tion, what I meant was that I called Adobe about 15-20 minutes after the start of their business hours and I was promptly talking to live support.

That is good news. Kudos to Adobe Support for having that courtesy towards their customers!
SB
Scott_Byer
Feb 3, 2004
The "key" should be based on the absolute minimal hardware necessary to distinguish the machine. If it’s being affected by attachments to a portable, that’s a bug and we’ll look into it.

I wish I knew what to do to help Katherine. I’m disappointed that support hasn’t been able to help her yet. I do know that it’s a problem that we’ll be able to have a fix for in the long run (but not a short term one).

-Scott
KL
Katherine_Lawson
Feb 3, 2004
Thanks Scott,

I really appreciate Adobe’s concern. I also appreciate the fact that you mentioned it again here to me. It lets me know that I’m not forgotten! 🙂

Kathi
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 3, 2004
Hi Scott,

Just to be sure there is no misunderstanding from the advice I offered, I have seen nothing to convince me that the denied activation problem I encountered was related to what "attachments" were installed. But, after I saw that denied activation and couldn’t think why it would arise, much less reactivation in the first place, I realized that my laptop was currently configured without my SlimSCSI card in place, and the CD-RW drive had been swapped with a DVD drive. The configuration with SlimSCSI & DVD drive was what I originally activated the system under and I hoped returning to it would resolve the problem. Since it didn’t I have nothing to support my advice other than I think it is a good preventative step to take.

Meanwhile, if you suspect there was anything overlooked regarding activation on laptops, then certainly it may be worth some degree of investigation.

I do have one question you may be able to answer for me that I wasn’t clear about from what I was told on the phone: Is the reactivation of the "2nd computer" prone to some sort of more rigid test in order for activation to be performed? That was the impression I got yet I can’t see why it would matter. That is, it seems to me the generated activation key should still contain the information necessary to establish whether the same machine is being reactivated or not.

Thanks,

Daryl
SB
Scott_Byer
Feb 4, 2004
It’s possible the SlimSCSI card somehow changed which drive was thought of as "primary". If so, yes, that could have affected activation. I think SCSI ends up being treated slightly differently than all other hard drive adapters (which get treated as removeable drives).

The 2nd activation doesn’t get checked any differently than the first. There’s nothing sent across but the generated key, and for privacy reasons, the generated key doesn’t contain any specific hardware info. As far as the server is concered, a different key is different hardware.

-Scott
KS
Ken_Storch_(aka_photon)
Feb 4, 2004
There may be something to XP changing the drive designation as a factor here. On my XP laptop, removing an IDE drive in an auxillary slot causes the OS to scramble some of the drive ‘letters’ and they don’t always change back the same way when it’s replaced. I have also had the scramble happen with a CD/DVD drive in the slot.

Ken Storch
DP
Daryl_Pritchard
Feb 4, 2004
Although my SlimSCSI card wasn’t used for an external drive but rather my Nikon scanner, and actually nothing was even connected to it at the time, I’d not have thought it would cause a problem with activation. In any case, I’d also have thought that by configuring my system to the same setup as when I activated it, I shouldn’t have had any problems with reactivation. Meanwhile, the CD-RW & DVD-R swaps didn’t affect the drive letter assignments. Most likely my problem was due to the drive image restoration although technically nothing had changed. In any case, such possibilities as mentioned here would seem to merit further consideration for any changes to the activation process that might be implemented.

Daryl

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