Wednesday, May 15, 2013 … I have no idea how the virus got to me …


My Firefox remains infected, as you can see by the “search” in place of search Google …

My Chrome browser works correctly, so this looks to be a remnant from my last major infection. What a POS that web site is …

Monday, May 13, 2013 Virus finds another host …

And yes, during the installation, the virus installs by default.


So watch out if you update your Epson printer drivers as you will get more than you bargained for if you blindly click next.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

IPower email hell … are they falling from grace? **Update–only a little …

I host my email and web on IPower and have been happy with them for many years. And suddenly, over the last 4 weeks I have begun having email system dropouts. They take the shape of me seeing absolutely nothing on my email account for up to 30 hours and then it suddenly working again.

It acts like a Denial of Service attack. And it is coming from inside.

I have had a ticket open with them and the extent of their investigation has been to send me an email and confirm that it is working again. This is wee three, but it has failed twice this weekend. And I have been updating the ticket after reopening it. Their response has been the unbelievably obtuse “it is working” … and so I am getting more aggressive and asking them to engage level 3 development support. I am called in a consultant quite often to perform this function for customers with serious issues and have done so in other companies, so I know that senior technical resources do in fact get called in in every company.

So far, they came back with “you are exceeding your quota” …


That’s the problem. I saw it myself today … the quota is changing and they seem to no longer allow me – THE OWNER AND ADMINISTRATOR FOR MY EMAIL ACCOUNTS – to reset quotas and get the email working again.

WTF has happened to IPower?

Here is today’s chat with a nice person who clearly was out of her depth from the word go. I changed her name for obvious reasons. All I asked was how to administer my own email ….

You are now chatting with 'IPower'

IPower: Hi Kim.  My name is xxxxxxxxx, how are you today?
kim: I need to know how to reset a quota on a mailbox. Your web site has dropped my quotas and made my email accounts stop working.
kim: I have a long running escalation that is going nowhere. I need this fixed now.
kim: I cannot find how to reset an individual mailbox quota. I am sure I used to be able to do that.
IPower: We are sincerely sorry for the issue you are facing with   email.
IPower: There is already a ticket #11133609    placed regarding this.
IPower: One of our higher technical specialists is working on it.
IPower: You should be hearing from them soon.
kim: are you saying that I am unable as the owner and administrator of this account to adjust the quota back to where it should be?
kim: when did these rules change?
kim: I was able to do this before
kim: I have always had essentially unlimited resources on ipower
kim: and I was not informed that quotas have been drastically reduced
kim: what is going on?
IPower: Our higher technical specialists will update about this and provide the information in detail.
kim: well, they have done a very poor job of investigating so far
IPower: I understand this is time-critical. I am working hard to find a speedy resolution for your issue.

I am going to stop here, because I can think of nothing positive to say about IPower right now. I will update this if they actually come up with some kind of fix. Or if I migrate my entire account to another hosting service. God forbid.

Update: I just found this in their user guide area. It is a new restriction that completely changes the way the email system works.

Manage the Email in Your IPOWER Mailbox

IPOWER hosting accounts include an unlimited number of mailboxes. However, each individual mailbox has a storage capacity of 250MB or 10,000 emails, whichever comes first. Once a mailbox has reached capacity, subsequent messages will "bounce," or return to sender, until old emails have been deleted or downloaded from a mailbox. These limits ensure that mail performance is fast and reliable not only to you, but for all users of our shared mail platform.

You have got to be kidding me! I have had a 5GB inbox for a decade.

Resolution: I had to go through and change the settings on my Outlook to be much more aggressive about leaving things on the server. I have it wiping out any email older than 28 days for now. This has fixed the issue and in fact it performs very well now, but I remain disappointed in how long it took for their support people to stumble about enough to give me the necessary clues to figure out that this was the issue at play.

They never once hinted at the reduction until they finally said I was over my mailbox limit. It apparently never occurred to them to wonder how I got to 1500MB+ when the limit is officially 250MB (and mine is now set peculiarly at 500MB.)

Anyway … I am not impressed, but I cannot imagine anyone else being any better in this era of “cut cut cut until your team almost bleeds out and then declare another profit growth quarter” :-)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Adobe cranks the price of Photoshop sky high … big stink ensues …

Yeah, Adobe has been playing cat and mouse with their users for a long time. Most of us have happily paid our $200 upgrade tax every 18 to 24 months and many of us have even added Lightroom into the mix, adding another cash outlay every 18 to 24 months.

But that is not enough. Adobe has bought completely into the “creative cloud” concept that is similar to Microsoft’s Office in the cloud concept. A subscription, after all, keeps the buyers paying year after year with no relief if they want to keep the software. Bummer, but there it is.

Adobe just announced that the big creative suite is going to a subscription model only in the next version. In other words, grab the latest version  while you can. And don’t expect raw converter upgrades after that except as part of DNG converter (and one wonders how long they will agree to keep that around.) There is a shred of relief though, as Adobe is saying that, for now, LR will continue to exist as a perpetual license product. Of course, they threw a little slap in anyway, mentioning that LR CC will have new features that the perpetual product will not.

My bottom line on this is that I don’t actually mind subscription software. if the price is reasonable. Microsoft give you literally all of office for about 10 bucks a month and they let you install it on all the computers in the family (up to 5.) This is a steal in my opinion, despite being more expensive than buying a pair of copies of home and student every 4 to 6 years or so. But I bought in anyway because I really like the software.

So with Adobe, it is obvious that I am a definite candidate. But then I saw the prices. Gak ... twenty bucks a month (you can get it for a year for 10 bucks, but I hate programs that end and promise to double the price later) … and if you want the whole suite, they want fifty bucks a month … they are clearly targeting professionals in the film and other businesses where this kind of money is not a big issue. But it will be crippling for part time professionals and enthusiasts. So no go for me. I’m a bit disgusted.

I have LR 4 and I plan to upgrade to LR 5 later. I will probably buy Nik Suite for 126 bucks fairly soon, basically switching the majority of my work onto the Nik tool set with Adobe playing host and converter. Adobe has opened Pandora’s box for the vast majority of its market, and you never know what will come out of there.

I harken back 2 years to a long, nasty Photoshop community forum thread about ACR and back versioning compatibility with Photoshop instead of forcing upgrades every 18 months to support the latest cameras.

I guess Adobe have now proven that a really nasty customer service issue can get a lot worse, but even at that time there was a lot of tension and acrimony. I got replies on my assertion that ACR is basically a plugin for Photoshop and there is no software architectural reason why back supporting prior versions of Photoshop for newer versions of ACR could not be done. N-1 is trivial (i.e. ACR 7 on CS5) and N-2 and N-3 are not difficult at all with competent architects and engineers. Adobe have those, so the only reason can be marketing … the big cash squeeze must continue to satisfy the shareholders. Old news … boring … gives people a reason to investigate all those 3rd party tools.

But the responses I got from Adobe employees – senior customer advocates and software engineers alike – were rather vociferous and sometimes personal attacks on my theory and on me. These guys were selling BS like:

It’s untenable to keep updating previous versions of the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in going back to CS2 to support new cameras/raw formats in a timely fashion. Using the DNG converter is the fastest way to deliver backwards compatibility to ALL users (CS2, CS3, CS4, Lightroom 1 & 2, as well as 3rd party apps that support DNG). This allows us to support the greatest number of customers and cameras as possible.

My response to silly statements like that being …

But ... this is obscuring the fact that there is no technical reason (other than artificial) why two ends of a protocol cannot be updated independently. Especially a protocol that is as simple as passing image data. That protocol has likely not changed in a decade or more.

But I get back even dumber comments …

No, that is not the case. The newest ACR may use new APIs, may be written for newer OS versions, newer compilers, newer architectures, etc.

And …

No, I'm talking about OS APIs (which are not irrelevant). But yes, the plugin could also use new APIs with the application. Um, ACR has a lot of UI, plus memory management. It's far from simple.

Sorry, but it's a lot more work than you seem to realize. Again, you are asking for something unreasonable.

And later, the same guy proved how stupid he was with this gem of a sarcastic remark …

"Go to moon, get rock. How hard can that be"?

Ok … things lie quietly for 2 years and what does Adobe say today in response to the huge kerfuffle about their new cash grab er, pricing model?

Barring something unforeseen from Apple and Microsoft, we plan to update Photoshop CS6 for the next Mac and Windows operating system releases. Once Camera Raw 8 is completed for Photoshop CC, we are going to release a version of it for CS6 that includes any new camera support but without any of the new CC tools and features.

Which Adobe could have done at any previous point in their history, because ACR is just a plugin in the Photoshop world. Makes those Adobe employees and a very nasty senior marketing guy at Pixel Genius (the last thing he is is a genius) look pretty duplicitous, no? (In the PG guy’s defense, he is loud and proud but knows dick all about software.)

It is important to understand this … Adobe say that they are going to a subscription only model because they cannot afford the time and resources to maintain the two separate code bases. So how is it they have the time to suddenly bang out a version of ACR that supports the previous version of Photoshop? The answer, obviously, is that it does not take extra resources. They just have to decide to do it, and in this case it delays a huge mutiny among customers for 2 more years. By then, one can assume that Adobe are reckoning that the kerfuffle will be over and people will have accepted the inevitable … that they will be shelling out a whole lot more money to use the creative suite in the future. It is an obvious strategy, which is why one must chuckle to read all the wonderful prose.

One last note on the Adobe product suite. I like it. A lot. But I have a limit and they have crossed it and now I will see what else is out there. I suspect that I can get along just fine on 3rd party additions to LR4 and maybe LR5.

Corporate avarice always wins. One gets tired of feeding the piranhas after a while …

What happened to Microsoft?

Remember when Microsoft was one of the true leaders, with the technically brilliant Bill Gates leading the charge to the Internet and the whole company in step behind him? When we saw quotes about upcoming products, it was either Bill or one of his senior program managers speaking. This is as it should be and certainly always was for Apple in the days of Steve Jobs.

Fast forward to Microsoft today, after the lost decade in which it has all but disappeared from the discussion. I like Windows 8, but only because the third party vendors have filled the serious gaps. The upcoming Windows Blue will no doubt make their lives miserable, and will answer the questions as to Microsoft’s plan to address the much-maligned Windows 8’s future.

So who is quoted today as saying the floodgates are going to open? Steve Balmer, the CEO? Perhaps the division head of Windows? A senior program manager (using old Microsoft titles here, not sure if they even exist today.)

No … a chief financial officer of the Windows division.


So the accountant of the division is getting interviewed about this key technical innovation to answer the analysts and critics.

My, how things have changed in the mother ship.