Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet

Old And In The Way

March 2017

By Mike Gould

    The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be     Many long years ago.        Old Folk Song

Computers are sorta like cars; they need to be replaced every once in a while. The business term for this is “Return On Investment”, or ROI. Standard practice for big business is to replace them every three years or so, as the prices are always going down and the computing speed is always going up. As for us small business folk, we generally replace them when they break or we need them to be do something they can’t due to aging software, etc. This is especially true for us Mac users, as those silly Macs just don’t know when to die.

This Old Mac
Speaking of living way beyond its freshness date, the Mac that Jan had been using to create the magazine you’re reading right now just hit the wall and we went through the ritual of the passing of the data onto a new iMac. The old G5 Mac was purchased in 2006, and has been running Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, MS Office, and all the other related publishing software for 11 freekin’ years! (It was also gray, hence the quote above.)

That is some serious ROI. The above Mac replaced a Mac G3 (um, I think…right, Jan?) that I helped J&J install in 1998 or thenabouts. So that one lasted 8 years. Historical note: I joined the J&J team in ’98, originally hired to do that very installation. Then I fast-talked my way into a writing gig and here I am 18 years later. We don’t need no steenking freshness date… But I digress.

Anyway, the old G5 was starting to have trouble keeping up with the various software, so a major update was called for. Note the hardware still works perfectly fine, including the CD drive, so if anybody out there is looking for an ever-so-slightly-used Mac, Jan has one sitting in her office she would be happy to sell you… (“Owned by a little old lady who only drove it to the printers on Sundays…”)

New Lamps For Old
Jan decided to pop for a new 27” iMac from the Learning Center (LC) in Ann Arbor, and also purchased the latest non-subscription version of MS Office. She was advised to download the subscription-based (alas) version of Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop and the all-important InDesign. InDesign is the layout software that Jan uses to stitch together all the articles, ads, and photos that go into BizMo.

LC transferred all the data from the old Mac, and sold her a license for MS Office. They had some problems getting Microsoft to respond to the online licensing, and as the weekend was approaching and Jan had a magazine to get out, she took her new baby home and called me to finish up the process. Just like old times.

So I showed up at the palatial BizMo building, breezed through security, was directed to the executive elevator, up to the 70th floor, down the carpeted hall, and was shown to the corner penthouse office where Jan runs her publishing empire. So far so good.

Adventures in Updates
And then the fun began. First, we needed to get signed up to the Adobe Creative Cloud. We went online and got things cooking. We had a problem where the Cloud recommended adding a second user to the access process, so we added Jim (the other “J”) and went to download the InDesign software. But it wouldn’t allow us to load the non-trial version, so we called Adobe and learned that only the latest signed up ID (Jim) could do this, otherwise you have to buy another $650 license. The helpful agent switched things around and Jan was able to download her software, and, as the last PDF issue of BizMo demonstrates, crank out our first online edition.

Those problems paled in the face of what we, uh, faced with Microsoft. We had the same problems the LC had: in order to register and use Microsoft Word, etc., you have to sign up online, then they email you a license key and you can use the software you bought. Fair enough – fights software theft, lets MS alert you when there are bugs discovered, etc.. But no matter what we did, MS did not respond to our emails and we couldn’t get our license. In desperation, we finally called MS support and got a nice lady in Mumbai who told us that MS only sends email to Gmail or Outlook addresses. Seriously? Well, it happens Jan has an alternate Gmail address so we tried that. No joy – although we did get a message that “the registration process email is down with this service – try later” or words to that effect. (I have since done some research and can find nothing about the addresses issue, so I think that was bogus advice.)

We eventually ran out of time, but Jan persevered the next day, and was eventually able to receive her license info and get Word up and running. My current theory is that MS was having a bad server day, and fixed it subsequently. Jeez, no wonder we put off this whole upgrade process as long we can.

All In One
We also got a new Epson printer/copier/fax/scanner/lettuce chopper unit and connected the iMac to that via a USB cable (which is generally a whole lot easier to set up than wireless). That went zippy quick and was a welcome respite from the rest of the ordeal. We still need to test the fax, and the lettuce keeps jamming in the mechanism, but otherwise, two thumbnails up. (Just kidding about the lettuce. Works pretty good on cabbage, though.)

Long story short, Bizmo is up to speed with the latest and greatest computer gear, and destined to stay that way for at least another decade. Or until the next business software upheaval, which ever comes first.

Mike Gould spends a lot of time updating old Macs. He was a mouse wrangler for the U of M for 20 years, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Training/Photography mega-mall, is a laser artist, directs the Illuminatus Lasers, and welcomes comments addressed to mgould@mondodyne.com.

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