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June 15, 2012

More Heaving

As I mentioned before, I have been having problems with vomiting in the morning. This has been going on for some months and the slow process of medical care here means that I finally have my Ear Nose Throat doctor appointment next week.

I mention it here because the vomiting has been slowly getting more violent and painful. This morning, for example, I was walking around collecting the trash when it struck me and struck me hard. Thankfully, I was holding a garbage bag. The pain and effort was such that I collapsed to my knees. The problem comes from having nothing in my stomach but air, mucus, and stomach acids. So, when the air and the mucus in my throat irritate enough to trigger a vomit reaction, all I have to throw up is more air, mucus, and stomach acid. And, since the trigger is air and mucus in my throat, I keep throwing up until the mucus in the throat is moved enough to no longer tickle things.

This whole event leaves me exhausted, feeling bad, sore, and out of sorts. This morning's session was so bad that I started having blood come out. In addition to those other reactionary symptoms, I now have an excruciatingly painful sore throat where the blood comes from. Because I have nothing in my stomach after a night's rest, and because the vomiting reaction is trying to remove something from my throat, my body is heaving much harder than in a normal, regular, flu-induced or bad food-induced vomiting scenario. As my wife can attest, my entire body is tensing and releasing and sometimes it seems like I won't stop (because the tickle remains in the throat and the heaving isn't forcing enough up and out to remove that feeling, or all the air).

I had an endoscopy not too long ago. Other than obvious signs of acid reflux, for which I take medication every day, they saw no other damage. I find this hard to believe with the fact that I have been throwing up (really, dry heaving) for months now, to the point where it is getting bad enough to cause blood.

If I can eat or drink early enough/quickly enough in the morning, the food and drink can wash the discomforting feeling out of my throat and help me to avoid throwing up. However, some morning even that is not tincture, and I throw up anyway (only this time with something in my stomach).

In the end, I hope that my ENT doctor is quality and will take the time to ferret out this issue and resolve it. It makes life much harder when you throw up (one of the most unpleasant things a body can do) nearly every morning to start your day. In addition, I'm hoping he can figure out a way to stop the near constant ringing in my ears I've had for around 25 years now. Boy, wouldn't that be some sort of awesome?

June 13, 2012


Last night's dream was vivid and detailed. I was living in some metropolitan area that was both spread out (like LA) and with a large number of tall buildings (like NY). I was frequently visiting a friend, Sean, in his funky apartment that happened to be made from a former bank vault. It was a very nice apartment, done in a pseudo-70s style, and had the luxury of being the only one in the complex without a neighbor beside, behind, above, or below it. (This apartment has actually appeared in more than one dream; I often re-use people, locations, and things in my dreams. I guess my subconscious is frugal.) Sean was dating/seeing/married to (I never quite got the exact relationship) my sister. Two of my friends, Jay and Lisa, were often found eating breakfast at Sean's place.

Wherever this took place, I was going to school. The school was close enough that I often stopped by Sean's in order to visit, waste time, or eat prior to or after returning from school. On this particular day, it was raining like the rain we experienced after the U2 concert in Montreal, I was running late, and I couldn't find my class. I went to the building it was supposed to be in, but the classes there were all math related; I saw economics, programming, physics, and accounting classes and students. No one knew where my actual English class was, and I had to find it. (Interestingly, this part of the dream was also re-used; I had the similar dream a few months ago and it was located at the same school.)

I finally, soaking wet by this time and shivering, walked back to Sean's and tried to get in so I could call my wife to come pick me up -- I didn't want to stay out in the cold and wet any longer.

I do not go in for Freudian or any other sort of dream interpretation. I think dreams are just your subconscious's way of working on things and, most likely, if you dream about flying you are dreaming about flying and everything that comes with flight. In this case, I think some stresses with work are seeping in (the late, can't find the classroom, etc. parts), but what I am unsure of is why I am mixing in such an odd group of people who don't know each other. And why have I glommed on to the bank vault apartment in a few dreams now? Sean is recently married to someone who does not look or act like my sister. My sister is getting married to someone who does not look or act like Sean. Jay and Lisa know neither Sean nor my sister.

Made for an interesting night's rest, to say the least. What odd, disparate dreams have you had lately?

June 11, 2012

Adobe Redux

Part 1 is here.

I finally received all of the emails from Adobe needed in order to follow links, get my software, and install it... or so I thought.

This morning, I went to Adobe's Licensing website to download my install files and get the new version of the software on my system. I figured it would be pretty fast, and I could start using FM 9 this morning as I continue my project for the client.

The downloads went smoothly but I noticed on the Serial Numbers page of the website, only FM 10 was shown. I figured that the one serial number must be good for both products and continued with the installation of FM 9. I got to the serial number screen of the installation process and it wouldn't accept what I provided.

I went to Adobe's support site and got stuck in an endless loop of "Start here" and "if this page doesn't answer your questions" links that just took me from one to the other. I finally figured out where the Adobe support call number was, called them, and spoke with a nice woman about the issue.

Initially, she kept asking me questions that, apparently, the answers didn't matter. For example, she asked me if I was on the Licensing site now. Yes. Can you see the licensing for your former product? No. Oh, well, I wouldn't, she said. Er, okay. Why ask me then? Do you plan to continue using the FM 7 license? Probably not, I said. Well, it will still be valid regardless, she answered. Er, okay. Why bring it up then?

I briefly explained the entire FM 10 and a back license to FM 9 issue. I then explained that I was installing FM 9 but the emails said the Licensing website should have my serial numbers and it did not. I was stuck on the serial number entry screen and needed that number so I could complete the installation. She then told me that the reseller who sold me the back license should have provided it. I explained that he was explicit that it would be provided by Adobe via the Licensing website. She put me on hold for a few minutes.

She came back and told me that one of the two emails that Adobe sent me should have the serial number listed for the back license. I opened the two emails and read to her the part where it explicitly states to go the Licensing website to obtain that information. She put me on hold again, for a bit longer.

She returned and told me that with back licenses specifically the customer must call Adobe to obtain the serial number, that it will not show up on the website. I then reread the passage from the emails, explained that not one of the many, many people from both Adobe and the reseller ever explained this to me, and that everyone directed me to the Licensing website. I then asked how I was supposed to know that when the official information provided by Adobe contradicted what she was telling me? She put me on hold for even longer.

When she returned to the call this time, she explained that she went to her manager, explained the situation, and had the manager create a serial number for me. She provided me the working serial number, and then apologized on behalf of the company, the original Adobe rep I dealt with, and the reseller. She agreed with me that the email was unclear and said that she and her manager discussed it and were sending this issue report up the chain of command to see if they couldn't get the email more clearly worded to avoid this problem in the future. She then promised to send me an email containing the information. I thanked her and finished my installation.

When I received the email from Adobe asking for my opinions of the support case and how it was handled, I gave her generally high marks (she was, after all, able to solve my problem in one phone session). I also made sure to make the same comment about the how the email should be more clear on the process for obtaining serial numbers for back licensed products.

Adobe is a very large company with many product lines. It is in many countries. But the processes I had to go through in order to simply upgrade my software from an older version to a newer version would be daunting to many people. I know a few people who would not have been as persistent as I was in both getting the correct pricing as well as getting the serial number. Some would have been irritated dealing with an India call center (both for the pricing and for the support call); I'm not-- as long as I can understand you and get the information I want, I don't care who I'm talking to. I only have issue if I can't get the assistance I need or cannot understand the person with whom I'm talking.

In the end, it all worked out and I now have Adobe FrameMaker 9 on my system, which is the same version my current customer is using. We should not have any more compatibility issues with my projects going forward. But I should not have had to go through such a frustrating process in order to upgrade to this point, and especially not when dealing with a large company like Adobe. Customer service should always be job one, and they dropped the ball repeatedly in this case.

June 5, 2012

Take My Money... Please!

Sometimes I wonder if businesses actually want to take my money. I asked for a quote on an upgrade to my Adobe FrameMaker 7 license to FrameMaker 9. I started a phone and email conversation with one of Adobe's representatives, whom I will call "Jim." I explained my situation in detail, Jim told me that I could not upgrade to FM 9, as the company no longer directly sells that version, but that I could upgrade to FM 10 and purchase a separate back license for an additional $20. Because the pricing ($1120) was way too rich for my independent contractor finances, I thanked him and moved on.

About a week later Jim informed me via email that Adobe was having a short-term promotion where they were knocking $400 off the license fee, meaning I could get the same deal (FM10 with a back license for FM 9) for $720. Still way to expensive for software, but much more manageable than before. I checked to make sure I could write off the cost on my taxes (yes), talked it over with my wife (since we would have to pay for this out of our own money), and decided to pull the trigger on the deal.

Somehow, the details of the conversation I had with the Adobe rep got lost as he transferred them first to another Adobe rep, whom I will call "Roy," and then that rep sent them on to distributor (whom I will call "Lori") to process the transaction. She sent me a Purchase Order for FM10 for $740.

I emailed her back, re-explained the situation to her, and asked her what the issues were. She apologized for the confusion, she wasn't given the information on the back license (and she would have to talk with someone in house to make sure they could do it), and that they were from a different country, so the discrepancy in cost was due to the variations between the countries.

Lori verified the FM 9 issue and sent me a new PO. I got the new PO with FM 10 for $740 and the FM 9 license for $25. With that country's taxes, the grand total was a whopping $865. Still better than the $1120 I was originally quoted, but well above what I was expecting or wanting to pay. She called, we talked, and I told her I would hold onto the PO but I was going to try to get the American pricing from an American distributor if I could. She was fine with that arrangement.

Today, I sent Roy a follow up email and asked if there was any movement on this. He immediately forwarded my info to three other people. However, it is the end of the work day and I did not expect a reply until tomorrow.

And then my phone rang. It was a brand new Adobe rep (we'll call her "Mona"). She was verifying whether I wanted to proceed with an upgrade to my Adobe FM 7 license, as time was running out. Soon, there would not be an upgrade path from 7 to any higher version FM. Yes, I said, I know... Jim explained this to me when we spoke by phone and email. I had to explain to her that I was already in the loop, already trying to purchase this upgrade, but that Roy had needed to send my info to a new distributor as the first one was giving much higher pricing. She kept reiterating that the pricing was limited time only and I would need to upgrade soon. No matter how many times I explained it, she didn't seem to get what I was saying.

Adobe apparently uses India to answer these types of requests, as Jim, Mona, and Roy all have Indian names and accents. While Jim was very polite, understanding, and easy to talk to, Roy seems more of a delegator, and Mona was simply not getting what I was saying (and I was having a hard time understanding her). I'm hopeful that either Jim will get involved again or the new people that Roy sent my info to will get the pricing correct and get me a PO in short order that I can pull the trigger on. If they cannot, then I will go back to Lori, accept and pay for her quote, and just eat the extra $100+ cost, as she was easy to talk to, understanding, and personable.

Adobe should have a much lower solitary user license fee as well as a much simpler online process for making a purchase. Frankly, I didn't need to have all of these phone calls (4) and emails (12) for what should be a relatively easy upgrade. I'm not sure why my original request to Adobe wasn't forwarded to Lori   (or one of the new people) in the first place, and then she could call and I could speak with her directly. The run-around of going through an account rep, a second account rep, a distributor, back to the second account rep, to another distributor, and then having a third account rep call is frustrating and off-putting.

It's like the company doesn't actually want my money or is used to dealing with independent contractors.

1. One of the new Adobe reps, whom I will call "Dan," just emailed me that he will be sending my information to yet another rep located in my area, whom I will call "Rich." Rich will be the one contacting me about the PO. Geez, Adobe, enough!

2. Rich just called. He isn't sure if I can go from 7 to 9 or 10 (he only has upgrade paths from 8 or 9 to 10) and he's not certain if he can provide the back license to 9 for me, even though I have been clear with every person that this is the primary reason for doing this. I asked him to call someone, a manager, anyone, and verify this before he sends me a PO. He was more than happy to and will call me back shortly with the results.

3. Rich called back; I was right, he was simply unaware of the promotion going on. I now have a PO for a grand total of $760.00, rather than one for $865 or $1120. I will pull the trigger on this deal before anything else changes!