Thursday, 9 October 2014

Auto FX Dreamsuite Review - Buyer Beware

I purchased the Dreamsuite Bundle Photoshop Plugins from autoFx.com years ago for $399 and initially it worked fine.

Then I switched to a MAC computer from a Windows and so I download the MAC version which did not work and sat on my desk top for a further two years.

Eventually, I contacted the company about 5 times and was ignored for 4 weeks.
I was so frustrated with the lack of support and the money I felt I had lost to this company,  that I wrote a blog post much along the same lines as this one.

About a week later the CEO emailed me explaining they had recently had a change of management and apologized for the lack of customer support.
He was very nice and did all he could to resolve my incompatibility issues and I was delighted to be able to once again use the software I paid for.

Some months later, my Operating System was upgraded which is a fairly common occurrence with any computer regardless of whether it's a Windows or a Mac computer. 
Once again the plugin failed to work.

I wrote to the Auto FX customer & technical support again but this time the reply was not so helpful.
In fact, I would go as far as to say the person who replied was quite rude and abrupt.

I was "reminded" of how much help I had already received previously and told I would have to pay a further $299 to upgrade my software in order for it to work on my computer as the version I owned and had paid $399 for was now considered "legacy" and was no longer supported by the company.

So, the bottom line is this; This plug in series would end up costing me $698 to work, the initial $399 and then a further $299 just to make it work again.

How many further 'upgrades' and associated hefty fees would I need to pay when my computers operating system was upgraded in the future?

I understand being charged for optional upgrades for software which has been improved or had added features applied to it, but I resent and refuse to pay hundreds of dollars just to be able to continue using software I have already paid hundreds of dollars for!

I made an assumption that the plugin would always work, that the $399 I paid to AutoFX.com gave me a license to use that software for as long as I needed it.

There certainly was no information or TOS explaining that I would need to pay further fees if the software became incompatible with my computers current operating system. 

I own thousands of dollars worth of licensed plugins and graphic software on my computer and to date, have only encountered this issue with AutoFX.com

Do all graphic software companies do this? In my experience, that depends.

For example, I own Filter Forge 4 Professional, Perfect Photo Suite, Substance Designer, Bitmap2Material and others and yes, some of these companies do charge a small fee (Approx $80) when they add additional features to their software.
However, I can continue to use the older version and it continues to be supported technically by the company.

My Filter Forge is updated all the time as they fix bugs and improve performance and its done with no charge and the same applies to Perfect Photo Suite.
Both of which I owned when I was on Windows OS and moved to a MAC OS and neither company charged me to download a compatible version. 

Personally, I think it's immoral to take hundreds of dollars from people for a piece of software and then demand almost the same amount again just to allow them to continue using what they had paid for, regardless of how long ago that was.

$399 is a lot of money by most peoples standards and as it happens for me, I had about 12 months use of that expensive plugin.

This morning I downloaded the free demo of their DreamSuite plugin just to see whether it was worth paying the additional fee to "upgrade" 
It installed fine and shows in my Photoshop CS6 Filters list but nothing happens when I select it.

It seems I am not alone. 
I looked for other independent reviews for this company and other than the promotional websites, I found this review on Amazon:

"I had a membership in 2007 and tried the plugins and other apps extensively. Found a great many of them amateurish and graphically outdated. Look at forum discussions to determine if this will even work for you. There are many indications that the software only works on certain Mac operating systems.  I didn't have trouble with mine at the time because I still had a laptop with XP.
Read the search engine comments about this software. Difficulty in getting various Adobe Photoshop versions to work with certain plugins and effects"

So in closing and based on my experience, AutoFX.com customer support is terrible, the software reliability is sketchy at best and the company ethics for paying customers is appalling.






Saturday, 27 September 2014

TRU Textures Says Goodbye to it's in world store sim in Second Life.



























It has been a difficult decision but over the last six months the amount of traffic (Shoppers) visiting the in world store in Second Life has dwindled to perhaps a hand full a day.

Shopping for textures "In world" has always been a laggy, time consuming affair but with the trend of Second Life shopping in general leaning ever more towards the Second Life Marketplace,  we eventually decided to let go of the sim which we have had since 2008.

We still do have an in-world store which we are currently still setting up. 

The smaller store will contain one search terminal which can be used to search our website database for textures by using key words or by typing the set ID number displayed in the title of texture sets on our website.
The search terminal can rez a temporary vendor and then you simply browse and/or purchase from it just like any standard texture vendor.

There is a 2 minute video tutorial here which demonstrates how to navigate our website and purchase from within Second Life. 

We will also have perhaps 100 vendors on display of the most recent and most popular texture sets. 

In addition to the above,  I am manually working through the 3000 products we have on display on the TRU Textures Universal SL Marketplace 

I am updating the main display image, adding key words (As they have not had any for 3 years since we added them) putting each texture set into the correct sub category and also reducing the price of sets that are several years old and have a lower pixel resolution which was considered acceptable at the time of creation.

This will also reflect on the TRU Textures website, so there will be hundreds if not thousands of product price reductions to watch out for over the next few months.

Quality control and administration of the vast texture library TRU has built over the years has been long overdue and whilst it will take me perhaps three months to complete, I hope the effort will be worth it.

It takes me away from what I love doing the most and that's creating new textures and 3D Materials.
But browsing through the collections I made over the years has turned out to be quite inspiring as I look at my work through more experienced eyes.