And Then Things REALLY Got Worse…

Posted on by Larry

Last week, I was speaking at Postapalooza, at the Soaring Eagle Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Spread across a series of spectacular fall days in the Midwest, surrounded by editors from all over the country who wanted to learn the latest technology, Postapalooza was a great time. (Thanks to Steve Julin, conference organizer, for the invitation.)

Well, ultimately, it was a great time, but there were some days in the middle that were really stressful. Let me explain.


At the conference, I was teaching sessions on Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere, Audition, Prelude, Story, and Photoshop. However, the computer I decided to take was a laptop that I recently updated to OS X 10.8.x.

About six hours before I left I woke up realizing that I hadn’t installed Adobe Production Premium CS6 on the laptop. (Yes, I know, I should have given myself a bit more time, but finishing my Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 video training was my sole focus the week before.)

So, at 3:00 AM, I’m in my jammies downloading software. I like Adobe’s Creative Cloud because it saves me money and because I get to install the regular applications on my system. I am not a fan of “The Cloud,” but Adobe was smart – the only thing that’s done in the cloud is software authentication, everything else runs locally on my system.

I currently have two systems running Creative Cloud, so, that morning, I logged onto Adobe’s website, added another Cloud membership to my account and started downloading.

At which point, I began a series of unfortunate events that found me with non-functioning software, demos that didn’t work, and borrowing systems from attendees to finish the training.


What I didn’t know then, but know now, was that Creative Cloud memberships only allow two authenticated systems per login account – generally linked to an email address. By trying to add a third subscription, things went kerflooey.

OK, I made a mistake due to ignorance. My fault. But fixing it, well, THAT’S my story.


I arrived at the resort in Michigan and, as I usually do before any presentation, started rehearsing. Except when I started Premiere I got an error message saying “Maximum Activations Exceeded.” At which point, no Adobe applications would open.

Hmmm… There were hundreds of people coming to see these presentations the next day, so I contacted Adobe support. Adobe has a very cool option that allows you to chat live with a support tech. I like this a lot, as you don’t need to worry about accents or bad phone connections.

The only problem is that chatting takes FOREVER! Techs come online within 3-5 minutes. But, a simple ten-question-answer chat took 90 minutes. Adobe must have these folks running ten to twenty chats at once – because the delays between asking a question and getting an answer were painful. And many of the answers felt like they were simply generated from a script, without a reference to the actual conversation.

The upshot of Tech Support Chat #1: The support tech would deactivate all my Creative Cloud installations so that I could activate the laptop for my demos.

What I didn’t know: Adobe support reps are not allowed to deactivate installations, most support reps are not trained in this procedure, and there is some question as to whether this was even possible from that support rep’s workstation.


So, after leaving that chat about 7:30 PM, I tried to activate the laptop.

Didn’t work. Same error.

Back to the chat. Different rep, same case number. Even longer delays. I contacted Adobe support starting around 8:00 PM, the chat didn’t finish till around 10:00 PM.

The upshot of Tech Support Chat #2: I was told it takes a hour after a system is deactivated for the status change to propagate through Adobe’s servers. Wait an hour and things should be fine.

OK, it’s late, I’m going to bed. Fix this in the morning.

What I didn’t know: Actually, it takes 72 hours. Which means if you deactivate a system, you can’t reactivate it for a long time.


Woke up at 6 AM, immediately tried to activate the software. Nothing. Same error.

Now I’m in deep trouble, my first demo in front of a live audience starts in three hours. None of the Adobe software is working.

Back to the chat. New support rep. Asked for, and got, elevated to a second-level support tech. This chat took about 90 minutes. It is REALLY that hard to activate software?

The upshot of Tech Support Chat #3: I needed to uninstall all Adobe Production Premium software, run an Adobe Repair application to clean all trace of it from my system, then re-install the software using the Adobe Application Manager.

Deep, depressed sigh. I’m on a hotel Wi-Fi – it’s 8 AM, there isn’t a chance this download will be done in time.

What I didn’t know: This drastic solution fixes a lot of problems. But it doesn’t fix the problem of too many activations. From the beginning this was doomed not to work. Worse, I just uninstalled all my software.


Fortunately, I long ago learned to travel with all data files on a separate hard drive. So, thanks to the kindness of strangers I was able to borrow computers that had the software I needed installed and running. (Thanks to Steve Julin and Karen Kleinheksel.)

The presentations were well-received and we covered a lot of great material. In spite of the installation hassles, I really enjoy demoing and training both Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Production Premium.



In the morning, when everything had run completely off the rails, it was too late to contact the powers-that-be at Adobe. Once I deleted the software, downloading all the software I needed at hotel Wi-Fi speeds took more than 12 hours. (In fact, I finished this at home after I got back.)

However, after my presentations were done and the dust cleared, I sent off an email to my Adobe contacts. To their credit, all four responded within 15 minutes with substantive suggestions that got things working as soon as the downloads were complete. Even better, I had a long phone discussion the next day with the executive that serves as point person between frustrated users and tech support.

But it should not take pulling rank to get results. So, here’s the core of what I learned:

A Creative Cloud membership ONLY supports two activations. If you want to add a third, create a NEW sign-in. In other words, when I logged in using my existing account, which already had two activations, there was no way this was going to work.

Adobe has already announced a system for large organizations to get more activations on a single log-on account. And I learned that they are working on a small business system that will allow more activations on one account as well. (We should know more about that shortly.)

However, the second thing I learned was that every single tech support rep provided information that was wrong, violated Adobe policies, or ran counter to their training. I can see one person getting it wrong, but not four different individuals in three different chats.

I have already shared with Adobe that activation should be easy for their support team to get right. Also, they need to look at ways to speed up chats. 90 minutes to get an activation problem resolved is inexcusable.


All that being said, I really like the new versions of Production Premium. Once the applications were properly installed, they work great. And, as I said at the beginning, these applications are installed on your local hard disk, so even if you don’t have access to the Internet, they will continue to work for many weeks until you need to log-in again.

I just wish that tech support was as good as the applications themselves.

7 Responses to And Then Things REALLY Got Worse…

  1. Lou Borella says:

    You should have just installed the free 30 day trial for the conference.

    I am going to run into this same problem at some point. Im wondering if Adobe will allow additional activations for an added cost. this would be great for freelancers. Its much easier than juggling activations. I’d easily pay an extra $10/month to have my Mac Pro, Laptop and MacMini all active. There are times when I need all three computers running renders at the same time.

    Lou …

  2. I’m not a fan of software activations for exactly this reason. I know software companies want compensation for their work, we all do, but when it comes at the sake of convenience, I draw the line.

  3. Allynn says:

    Lou – I could KISS you!!!
    Your idea just saved a major project for me!

    Long story short – There’s a hurricane coming. I have project that is due Tuesday. My main desktop died (proabably bad RAM). All I have is an ancient laptop without Premiere, Audition or Media Encoder and the prospect of being without electricity by Tuesday. Then I remembered your idea to use the 30 trial! It worked and it’s rendering out now!

    I must say, I’m impressed at how well CS 6 runs on an old MacBook Pro with only 2 GB of RAM. It wasn’t exactly speedy and I had more than a couple of re-linking issues (mostly due to AVCHD – don’t get me started) but the project is done and I still have more than enough time to bring in all the lawn furniture!

  4. William Buchanan says:

    If I’m reading this correctly, the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription that I currently have will allow me to install the entire set of apps on both of the MacPro systems that I use, or one of the MacPro systems and my MacBookPro (given any hardware limitations).

    To install it on one more (i.e. both MacPro systems and my MacBookPro system) would require a de-authorization of one of the two systems? Or would it require an entirely new subscription? Is that what you mean when you say “If you want to add a third, create a NEW sign-in.”?

    Thanks for the info.


  5. Allynn says:

    Thanks, Larry.
    I still don’t have water-front property yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was on Monday!

    Seriously… all fine here. No power but that’s the only problem. Send good thoughts to everyone in NY and NJ

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