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Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan – Good Value or Dishonest and Unfair?

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CCI have been a Photoshop user for many years, and have been very happy with it. Recently, I purchased CS6 and have been blown away with it’s “Content Aware” powers. I have gone back and forward on Lightroom many times though. I have trialed it more than once, and was never 100% convinced I had to have it.

A few weeks ago a friend recommended I download and trial Abobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan, which features new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom. It installed easily and was up and running quickly on my Mac Pro/Yosemite machine. My first impression was that it slowed my system and internet connection considerably (Spinning Beachball syndrome). It always seems to be phoning home for something, like telling me I need to update Acrobat DC, when I don’t have Acrobat on my system, but that is a whole other discussion. As usual, I found Photoshop to be amazing, and to my surprise I was also impressed with how Lightroom had grown since I last trialed it. The inbuilt lens profiles and new features like Dehaze seemed to bring it to life for me. Add to this the packages price tag of only $9.99 AUD per month, it was seeming to good to be true, and I started to feel like I would sign up.

adobe-screen-grab
Whilst looking for something else on the internet I stumbled upon This Article on Geek.com entitled “Adobe will try anything to stop a Creative Cloud cancellation”. This is the line in the post that really caught my attention:

“in order to protect that revenue they are using strong-arm tactics when someone attempts to cancel their subscription”

Strong-Arm Tactics? That sounded like a pretty bold statement, and initially I wondered if it was Adobe or the Geek.com author who came off looking bad here. I chose not to base my decision on this article, gave Adobe the benefit of the doubt on this one, and continued to research the plan. To my dismay I was able to find other similar stories on the internet about the way Adobe does business. After removing the flames and venom I was able to summarize those articles into a few points that are relevant to the decision I have to make. It appears that Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan is $9.99 for the first year, and then it jumps up to $19.99 for the second year and beyond. It also appears to be very difficult to cancel if you change your mind at some point, and it seems that if you are able to initiate a cancellation you will be expected to pay out the contract.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Photography Plan is still good value at $19.99 per month. However, my concern lies in the fact that there appears to be some important information that consumers are entitled to know about being hidden away. Adobe don’t appear to be being honest and transparent about how the plan works. I have searched fairly extensively on Adobe’s web site looking for the fine print, and there doesn’t seem to be any. Perhaps it may be revealed once I click the “BUY” button and start the purchase process. Right now, I don’t feel everything is being disclosed, and I am worried that I will be locked into an arrangement with hidden conditions and fee’s that whilst they may be visible if you know where to look, are obscured and buried away in a heavily texted poorly titled page guarded by a very stern Robots.txt file to block it from showing in searches.

Concerned, I went directly to Adobe and asked them straight out – “After the first 12 months, does the price jump up to $19.99 a month?” Please see transcript of the chat below:

Adobe-Transcript

I assume Vanessa is not this customer service agents real name, and this simple and direct question may not be on her answers flow chart (Not her fault). But after reading some other transcripts, the question still remains in the forefront of my mind – are Adobe playing games? Has Vanessa not been trained properly, and genuinely doesn’t know the answer to this very simple question? Or is Adobe hiding the possibility that the prices on their web site are introductory, will increase 100% after 12 months, and they will make it very difficult for you to cancel your account when you find out in the hopes that they can defeat your will and retain you as a customer, as many articles, stories and comments suggest?

As I am still undecided, I am very interested to hear your thoughts on Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan and Adobe’s business practices in general. Do you think Adobe are a fair company, and the Creative Cloud Photography Plan is a good deal, or do you think Adobe are dishonest and sneaky, and the Creative Cloud Photography Plan is the cheese on the mousetrap?

If you have a moment, please answer the poll questions below (login not required), and leave a comment if you have one (email address required).

How do you feel about Adobe?

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Should I sign up for Creative Cloud Photography?

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Posted by Greg - January 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Categories: General, Gregs Rants, Photography, Photoshop, Software Encounters   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pop Vinyl Repairs – How To

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How Can I Clean Off Marks?

Magic Erasers seem to be the most popular solution in the Pop community. It is a block of Melamine Foam, and is sold under many different brand names. For Australians, it is a Chux product, available in stores like Coles. Other solutions include a small amount Rubbing Alcohol or Eucalyptus oil on a cotton swab. I have also read some people use acetone on a swab, but this sounds a bit aggressive to me, and will likely remove paint. I STRONGLY recommend you do not use this method. For those who want to give it a go on really stubborn stains, tread carefully and press gently, and don’t say you were not warned!

How Can I Straighten A Bent Dagger/Knife/Sword/Body Part?

There are two widely used methods, both involve heat. For thin parts, a hair dryer can be used to warm and soften the material, then maneuver the part into the correct location and hold it there until it cools. For thicker part, run it under hot water, or submerge it in hot water until it softens. Again, hold it in the right spot until it cools.

How Can I Make The Head Sit Straight?

Bobble Heads – Force a few cotton balls up inside the spring and manipulate it until the head sits correctly.

Non-Bobble Heads – Submerge the head in hot water until the glue softens, then gently manipulate it until it is in the correct spot, and hold it until the glue cools/dries again.

How Can I Repair A Crushed Box?

We all hate it when a Pop arrives crushed, but I have read on some boards that people have attempted to repair damaged boxes with some success. Whilst it is definitely not recommended, it seems crushed boxes can be improved by removing everything from the inside, flattening them out, putting a pillow case over them, and gently passing a warm iron with NO steam over them. Obviously, you would need to concentrate on the cardboard and steer clear of the plastic, but if the box is already trashed, you have got nothing to lose. I personally would opt for a stack of heavy books instead of an iron…

How Can I Secure A Loose Clear Plastic Window?

Use a regular glue gun to add a drop of glue in an out of sight place.

How can I re-attach a part that has broken off?

Know a good glue to use on Funko Pop Vinyls? Let us know about it by leaving a comment below.

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Posted by Greg - January 2, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Categories: Funko Pop Vinyl   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Ultimate Funko Pop Vinyl Beginners Guide F.A.Q

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The Ultimate Funko Pop Vinyl Beginners Guide F.A.Q is the best place for Newbs to get up to speed on everything they will need to know about collecting, trading, buying and selling Funko Pop Vinyl figures.

If you have any questions or answers you would like to contribute to the F.A.Q, please let us know in the comments section below.

What Is A Funko Pop Vinyl?

A Funko Pop Vinyl is a stylized vinyl collectible figurine manufactured by the Funko company in Everett Washington USA. They are identifiable by the uniquely embellished oversize heads on springs which bobble about when shaken, hence the term Bobble-Head. Although the majority of Pop Vinyls have bobbling heads, this is not possible with all characters. Some heads are fixed firmly in place with glue. Funko has licenses to produce 1000’s of different characters from Popular Culture like Star Wars and The Avengers. You can view them HERE. The best way to stay up to date is by following Funko’s official blog.

Display In Box or Out Of Box?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions, and there really is no definitive answer. It is a matter of personal preference. Some things to consider when making your decision:
Do you intend to keep your Pops forever or is it possible you might trade or sell them? If you intend to keep all of your Pops, it is fun to take them out of the boxes because they look so cool. If you think you might be interested in trading and selling, a MIB (Mint In Box) Pop will always be more valuable as it is clean and never touched or played with.
Do you have a lot of space to display your collection? If you find yourself heavily into collecting Pops, they will eventually take up a LOT of space if you wish to display them. A lot of people will take them out of their boxes so the collection can be displayed in a smaller area, and store or fold the boxes away carefully so they can be put back into action if required.

Leave Price Tags On?

Again, this is a matter of personal preference. Some people like to leave them on so they can see how much they paid, compared to current market value. Others think they look ugly, and like to take them off as they feel it spoils the aesthetics of the box. But be careful if you do decide to remove them, they can tear and damage the box reducing its value.

How Can I Clean Off Price Tag Residue?

Some price tags leave a sticky residue behind once they have been removed.

Price Tag Residue On Cardboard – The general consensus in the Pop communities is that a small amount of rubbing alcohol or eucalyptus oil on a cotton swab will do the trick. Make sure to test your solution on an old spare box first, or if you don’t have one, try a discreet part of the box like the bottom first to avoid major mishaps. Another solution I have heard of but not tried is to use a hair dryer to soften the glue. Again, proceed with caution.

Price Tag Residue On Clear Plastic – Remove everything from inside the box, then flatten it out. A small drop of cooking oil on a soft rag has been reported as working very well. DO NOT use alcohol or acetone on the clear plastic as it will melt!

What Are The Stickers – Should I Take Them Off?

Comic-Con-Pop-Sticker

The stickers on the clear plastic part of the box indicate that the item is some sort of exclusive or rarity (IE – From Comic-Con). You definitely DO NOT want to remove them even if they obstruct the view of the Pop, as these are part of what makes it exclusive and valuable.

Should I Keep The Boxes?

If you decide to display your Pops out of the box, it is well worth keeping the boxes because you never know, one day you might want to sell one, and it is way more valuable in the box. If you are certain you don’t want to keep the boxes, they are worth money, and there is a demand for them. Try selling them on Ebay or trading/selling them in your favorite Pop forum.

How Much Is This One Worth?

For Australians:

Pops are all worth different amounts due to their exclusivity. Some are produced by the thousands, while others are produced in very limited numbers. The best ways to figure out what a particular pop is worth to look for it on Ebay, filter the search to Australia only, look at completed sales and see what it has been selling for lately.

Pop Price Guide is not really relevant for us in Australia, as many pops considered exclusive in the U.S are regulars here, and vice versa.

For Americans:

For our friends in the U.S, poppriceguide.com is the way to go.

What Is An Exclusive?

Exclusive-Pop-vs-Regular-Common-Pop

An Exclusive is a Pop that has been produced in a limited amount of numbers, usually for a special events like Comic Conventions. They are identifiable by a sticker placed on the clear plastic part of the box. The Pop itself is usually different from the mass produced common version, featuring variations like different colors, metallic paints, and glow in the dark capabilities

What Is A Prototype?

Before a Pop is mass produced and released into stores for you to buy, several original prototypes of the character are made. These are used for testing and assessment of the new idea. Sometimes they are painted, sometimes they are not. These are considered Highly collectible and very valuable.

prototype-pops

What Is A Chase Piece or Chaser?

When Funko ships box lots to retailers, they are sent in lots of 36. One of the pops in the case is called a Chase. Whilst it is the same character, it is slightly varied from the rest, making it rare and more collectible. Usually, Chase Pops have different colors or paint, and have a unique sticker on the clear plastic. Unfortunately, these are usually separated out by the retailers and sold at a premium price. They are rarely seen in the wild, and usually found on Ebay.

Chase-pop

What Is A Flocked Pop?

A flocked Pop is covered with a fur like material which gives them a soft feeling when touched, and makes characters feel more realistic than the regular smooth painted vinyl surface. Flocked Pops are usually exclusives and harder to find.

Flocked-Snuff

What Are Dorbz, Vinyl Vixens, Mystery Minis, Hikari etc…?

They are other kinds of collectible figurines made by the Funko company. They are parallel product lines similar to Pop Vinyls. They too have very active and vibrant communities you can check out.

dorbz

What Should I Collect?

There are so many Pops available now, it is very easy to be overwhelmed. The best approach is to start simple. Identify a genre or franchise that appeals to you, and start collecting in that sub-group. It’s also a good idea to start with current regulars/commons that are readily available and easy to find. For example, the new Star Wars – The Force Awakens set. There are roughly 15 Pops in the set, they are all current and readily available. When you have enough spare change you can buy one from time to time and gradually build your collection, with the goal of completing the set. Once you have completed the set, move on to another sub-set. Be warned, collecting Pops is VERY addictive. If you decide you want to start by collecting all of the characters from the Big Bang Theory for example, you are going to get disappointed pretty quickly, as some of them have been retired and are very hard to find.

What Is Collectors Corps/Loot Crate Etc…?

They are limited edition subscription collectors boxes that are released monthly, and contain exclusive items that cant be purchased anywhere else. These exclusive items do sometimes turn up for sale on Ebay.

collectors-corps

What Does PC Mean In Pop Forums?

PC is short for popcultcha.com.au. It is a VERY popular online store in Australia that often has Exclusive and Hard to find Pops at regular prices. – http://www.popcultcha.com.au/

What Is Hot Topic?

Hot Topic is an online store which has lots of exclusives and is very popular amongst collectors – http://www.hottopic.com/pop-culture/collectibles/figures-and-toys/

Where Can I Trade/Buy/Sell?

There are numerous places online to buy, sell and trade pops. If you are looking to buy brand new Pops at regular retail prices, you cant go past Popcultcha.com.au. If you want to find something rare or retired quickly, Ebay.com is your best bet. If you are looking to trade or swap, as well as buy and sell, I recommend the Australian Funko Pop Vinyl Collectors Club group on Facebook.

Some retail outlets in Australia include:

EB Games
Zing

How Can I Protect My Pops?

A number of companies make plastic sleeves and cases to keep dust away, and prevent discoloration. Called Pop Protectors, they usually sell for around $2-$3 each

How Can I Repair Damage?

See our page on Pop Vinyl Repairs HERE.

How Can I Clean Marks Off?

Magic Erasers seem to be the most popular solution in the Pop community. It is a block of Melamine Foam, and is sold under many different brand names. For Australians, it is a Chux product, available in stores like Coles.

How Can I Charge Up Glow In The Dark Pops?

Glow In The Dark Pops generally don’t just glow in the dark. They need to be charged. Some methods for charging them include placing them under U.V. lights, Taking them out into the sun, or placing them in front of a high powered flashlight for a few minutes. I have also heard of people using car headlights.

The most popular method seems to be purchasing a cheap UV Torch/Flashlight of Ebay. They usually sell for about $2-$3.

UV-Torch-300x255

 

My Pop Keeps Falling Over/Wont Stand Up?

A small amount of museum putty (In Australia, we call it BluTak) on the base will do the trick, and gently secure it to your shelf.

How Can I Find Someone To Make A Custom For Me?

Pop Vinyl Facebook Groups and Discussion Boards are the best place to find customisers. They will usually post many photos of their work, and you can check their feedback from customers in the comments to see if they may be right for your job.

Where can I get more info on Customisation?

Check out The Funkustomizer Files website. There are a lot of tips and tricks, and examples of customs he has created.

How Does The Head Come Off?

For the Bobble Head style pops, the head screws off the body (more detailed info and an instructional video coming soon). For the non bobbles, submerge the head in hot water for 30-40 seconds to soften the glue.

Who Is Freddy Funko?

Freddy Funko is the Funko Companies mascot. There is even a blog page on Funko’s blog where Freddy gives a tour of Funko Headquarters.

How Can I Keep Track Of My Collection?

The best way I have found so far is with an iPhone app called Toy Collector 2.

toy-collector-2-app-169x300

 

If you have a better method, please let us know about it on the forum.

What Do All The Acronyms and Lingo Mean?

MIB = Mint In Box
NFS = Not For Sale
NFT = Not For Trade
ISO = In Search Of
GOT = Game Of Thrones
GITD = Glow In The Dark
OOB = Out Of Box
PC = Popcultcha

If you have any questions or answers you would like to contribute to the F.A.Q, please let us know in the comments section below.

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Posted by Greg - January 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Categories: Funko Pop Vinyl   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Windows 10 Beta Trial “a component of the operating system has expired” error fix

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a component of the operating system has expired

I hate Windows……I really really do…….

Long story short, as I am a beta tester for Micro$oft I previously installed a preview version of Windows 10. My life circumstances have changed since, so I haven’t been keeping up with its development, nor have I been updating the brand new HP PC I bought for it.

So today (Some time after the trial version has expired) I turned on the machine……BRICK…….nothing.

Couldn’t boot from disk, couldn’t boot from a USB drive, NOTHING but:

“a component of the operating system has expired”

The bottom line, if you want to reclaim your files and reinstall or upgrade, just boot into BIOS and set the date to JUNE 2015.

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Posted by Greg - December 29, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Categories: Free Stuff, General, Gregs Rants, Tech, Windows and PC   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

VidBlaster v4.06 New Features

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Posted by Greg - May 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm

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How To Speed Up a WordPress Web Site by Optimizing Images

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Imageoptim LogoThe Webernets has been running a bit slow lately, so I started looking at ways to speed things up. I stumbled on an article on WPMUDEV titled “How To Massively Reduce Your Images For A Faster WordPress Site“, and I thought I would put it to the test. I downloaded my entire images folder from my server, and here are the beginning stats.

Original SizeAs I am using a Mac, I downloaded the free app recommended in the article called ImageOptim (The article recommended Caesium as a free alternative for Windows users). I was impressed to read on the download page that “ImageOptim is lossless — it compresses image files without changing pixels.

Opening the program shows a pretty familiar looking window.

ImageOptim WindowI dropped the whole folder in using the default settings and away it went. It took about 50 minutes, and here is the summary it displayed when finished.

file size savingsAnd this is the specs on the folder from the finder.

default optimized file size63.9 MB saving is nothing to sneeze at, but I was interested to see if I could push it any further. In the settings, I found a “Quality” slider for Jpegs. By default, it is set to 100% hence the claim to lossless, So sliding it down to 80% will obviously reduce the quality and void the lossless claim, but is the trade off for file size justifiable?

ImageOptim PreferancesWith the Jpeg Quality Slider set to 80, I ran the program again on a copy of the original folder I made before the first optimization run. It took about 60 minutes this time, and here is the summary from the window footer

Hard Optimize SettingsAnd here is how the Finder views the folder

Hard Optimized Finder Size110.5 MB Saving on a 330.4 MB original file size is impressive. That’s 1/3! I went through a number of files to check the quality, and even though there is a slight difference if you look hard, for the most part the quality is good.

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Posted by Greg - May 15, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Categories: General, Mac, Word Press   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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