Back in the mid-1990s I was relatively young, fast, clear-sighted, and happily riding a wave of innovation. Work was designing web pages, crafting illustrations, developing any sort of visual educational resource. Design work was often interrupted by people needing help with graphics related issues: I can’t see the changes. I can’t open a file. It won’t print. I don’t have that menu… Even after some co-workers retired, they’d call for a reminder or guidance through new issues. I had old versions of most of my software that I could run from disk so we could use the same tools while trouble shooting together. It was part of the work, but undeniably satisfying. What usually ran through my mind behind the voice I tried to keep calm and non-judgemental were muttered questions: “why don’t you upgrade your system? Why don’t you upgrade your software? Why don’t you just use a current, recommended browser?”
As I got ready for retirement in 2012 I bought a large, powerful laptop and a Wacom tablet to steer it with. For software, I went with the recently released Adobe CS6 Master Suite. It included apps I didn’t need, like DreamWeaver; others that I hadn’t used quite yet, like After Effects; and my workhorses, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and InDesign. I always picked up the newest release of those apps as soon as they were available and I was determined to continue updating. Life was good, I did personal work, launched my domain, and continued to read extensively to stay in touch. A few months after my departure I read the news that Adobe was going to change from their 18-month numbered release cycle of boxed software to a Creative Cloud model requiring monthly internet verification and constant updating. I’d just relocated, was able to buy fast internet access for the first time, and I realized how fleeting that access could be. Access to authorize CC software on what might become a desktop computer would be impossible. Unavailable. Unaffordable. I opted out. CS6∞
Life was great and everything worked really well. Apple released an OS update — Mavericks? the car that blew up? — and the word was that CS6 apps didn’t all function perfectly. I couldn’t take the risk; I held off updating till I could be sure. Everything was still great. Then Yosemite was released and about that time I started to get “Service Battery” warnings. Everything seemed fine, but Apple Care, still my umbrella for a few more months, suggested I take my laptop to a local Mac-Approved service center. I did and they were great. Their diagnosis condemned my practice of fully discharging then recharging my laptop’s battery every day. It had unnecessarily taken my laptop battery to its 1000-charge end. I was told I didn’t have to do that with mac batteries anymore, got a new battery (and keyboard!), and was offered an OS upgrade, too. I explained about my software and the tech told me he understood — he was running an iMac on Snow Leopard.
I had hoped that Adobe would publish an early version of the CC software on disk. Something less than current, something not updatable, but available for sale. Something that I could buy and replenish my system. I didn’t have the hope anymore.
Things start to get fuzzy for me about this time; I was lightheaded and disoriented. El Capitan appeared and it was too much for Adobe. Adobe stopped all CS6 updates and bug fixes and I stopped reading everything from Adobe. Safari had been my internet lifeline, but my websites started putting up notices when I landed on their pages: my version of Safari was not going to be supported anymore, please upgrade. I stopped reading anything from Apple. Twitter would only show me the mobile version of my page. Videos wouldn’t load. I switched to Chrome as my default but pretty soon, a banner appeared telling me my version of Chrome would soon be unsupported. Amazon Prime told me only Safari would work for video. Firefox was the last browser standing, then Firefox, too, upgraded beyond my ability to follow. No upgrade was available for any browser I had still running on Mountain Lion; video windows winked out all over the internet.
Finally in these last days, if I stay off of the internet, if I launch my creative applications and immerse myself in digital work, everything is responsive again, effective and stable. I am young, fast and life is good.