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System crashes—Adobe products?

Since installing Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, I’ve experienced two system crashes coming out of sleep (screens don’t redraw, only pulling the power plug works). I’m used to Adobe products crashing (over the years Adobe gets its money on upgrades, and in return I receive a product with as many problems as the previous version). But a crash in Photoshop or DreamWeaver doesn’t annoy nearly as much as having to power-cycle the entire system.

After two months of nearly trouble-free operation, the purely circumstantial evidence is suggestive; the instability started the very next day after installing the Adobe products. That proves nothing, but it is the sequence of events. I’m using the very latest Mac O X 10.4.9, and minimal non-standard stuff, and a reasonably capable machine, a 3GHz Mac Pro with 16GB of memory and a few measly terabytes of disk space.

Adobe disavows any bugs in its products and spreads plenty of FUD with all the things you might be doing wrong in Troubleshoot system errors or freezes in Photoshop CS3 on Mac OS (there are clones of this article for XP and Vista, etc). On a modern “sandboxed” operating system such as Mac OS X, Adobe’s disclaimer just doesn’t ring true: “Photoshop may not necessarily be the cause--it may be the only application that uses enough memory or processor cycles to expose the problem”. Does this sound like a similar refrain? See An Experience with Software Technical Support. C'mon Adobe, Photoshop CS3 only sporadically uses more than one core of my quad-core, and gets sluggish using its maximum 3GB of the 16GB total memory.

If you read Adobe’s “Troubleshooting” guide carefully, you’ll find that it covers any and all conceivable computer problems, on Earth or on Mars, with a nightmarish litany of tasks that will keep the most ardent nerd busy for weeks. Eventually something will work (or you’ll give up, and trade your computer for a crayon), sparing Adobe any inconvenience.

Preferences

Maybe Adobe could explain why one should have to delete carefully-chosen preferences (“Re-create the Photoshop preferences file to eliminate problems that a damaged preferences file might cause”). Are Adobe engineers so incompetent that invalid preferences can’t be detected and reset to valid defaults?

No, it’s easier (and less expensive) to foist the problem onto the customer, instead of making the engineers design a robust program. Or writing test tools that deliberately corrupt preferences so that the software can be tested for stability in situations which real users allegedly experience. This is software engineering 101. If preferences are “damaged”, guess what? Those preferences are maintained by the program itself! Asking the customer to pamper a finicky program that can’t detect its own invalid preferences is lame.

Is it really Adobe’s fault?

Probably not. But the premise of Adobe’s Troubleshooting guide is hard to swallow: that the only possible problems are caused by something other than the Adobe software. I wish Adobe would simply apply some honesty to their document—new software has problems. But there’s not a single link to Adobe forums in which to report problems, not a single suggestion as to how to proceed if the problem does indeed appear to be in Adobe software. In short, buy a support contract.


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