Most of my computer hardware and software is in decline. I love to stay on the bleeding edge, often running beta software and buying a new Mac laptop as often as I’m able. The last few years have not been kind to my bank balance though and my gear is suffering.
My MacBook Pro is now about 4 or 5 years old, my iPod touch is the first model, my iPhone the second model.
The Photoshop CS3 problem
My software is more up to date, unless it’s really expensive, as is the case with Photoshop (US$700). I run Photoshop CS3, and have been expecting the day when it would no longer run on the newest Mac OS. The other day, I thought that moment had arrived, when I suffered the exact problem Maria Langer talks about:
After updating my Mac to Mac OS 10.6.3, I found that I could not successfully open Photoshop CS3. Although the program would go through what seemed like the entire startup process, it would unexpectedly quit right before it opened a document.
If you’ve had the same problem, read Maria’s article for more detail, what causes the problem, and how to fix it. Also read her other article, about troubleshooting this problem: The Trouble with Troubleshooting.
After a bit of searching I found that Photoshop CS3 is showing this problem on Macs with particular problems with the serial number. My Mac had a couple of new logic boards as part of a repair a few years ago, and has no serial number.
I no longer need Photoshop
I’d been thinking for a while about what I would do when Photoshop ‘died’ for me. I’m not sure I still need it, and it’s a pain on my Mac anyway, as it’s slow to load, and feels very ‘heavy’. My Mac is aging and not really quite sufficient for my needs — it does fine for web work and text, but when I handle larger images or movies I can really feel it struggle.
I take photos intermittently. These days I take quite a few with my iPhone, snapping moments and things that catch my attention. The iPhone photos are snapshots — they’re quick, probably poorly composed, sometimes blurry, often trivial.
I generally send these photos straight to a Posterous account that, while not locked up, isn’t really intended for public viewing. The snaps have no captions or explanations.
Some of those snaps I also send to Twitter, through TwitPic.
Aperture adjusts photos
I also have a decent camera, a Canon EOS 400D. Sometimes I take batches of photos that I import to my Mac and store carefully on an external hard drive. A few years ago, after being intrigued watching someone work with their photo library I investigated which software they used. It turned out to be Aperture (NZ$350).
I’d been using software that had been taken over by Microsoft and although happy with it at the time, I wasn’t optimistic about its future. Moreover, I could see Aperture had a whole lot of features I’d like.
I bought Aperture, and over time I’ve found it would replace most of what I’d previously used Photoshop for. It has excellent controls for not only cataloguing photos, but for adjusting exposure, light and shade, cropping — hundreds of actions. And then it exports handily in various formats.
Note: the small size and comparatively poor quality of these screenshots does not do either Aperture or Acorn justice.
I don’t yet have Aperture 3, released recently — I’m holding off until I buy a new laptop, which will be as soon as a new model is available, finances permitting. Or until I can’t wait any longer to update the software.
A while ago I realised that I was only ever really opening up Photoshop to manipulate screenshots destined for web pages. Aperture would actually handle that too, it’s just that I don’t add the screenshots to Aperture, and am not sure I want to.
So when Photoshop stopped working, and it looked as though a fix would come, sometime, I decided this was probably the end of the line for it on my Mac.
If Adobe bring out a fix for the serial number problem I’ll install the fix and continue to occasionally use the software. When it completely stops working with my combination of hardware or software I’ll abandon it.
Acorn image editor
Meanwhile I did want something inexpensive and lightweight that could optimise images destined for web pages, making the file size as small as possible while maintaining good quality.
Pixelmator is probably very good, and seems to have loyal users. After 2 minutes of working with it though, I decided it wasn’t right for me. The dark interface, the layout, the icons all just didn’t appeal to me.
On the other hand, some years ago I’d used Gus Mueller’s excellent VoodooPad software and knew it was good. His Acorn image editor (US$50) also turned out to fit with how I work.
Acorn is small and loads quickly. It’s easy to use, and I love that as I choose settings for optimising images I can see a live preview of how the image will look and what the file size is.
I haven’t actually bought Acorn yet, but it’s highly likely I will, once the trial period has expired.
I think that between Aperture and Acorn I’ll have almost all of my image editing needs covered.
Now all I need is a new MacBook Pro. I wish Apple would hurry up and announce a new release.