Well, its been one of those days. Actually, it started last night when I tried to start my installed copy of Macromedia Flash 2004. First some background.
Last friday (10/24/03) I upgraded to Panther from 10.2.8. When I performed the upgrade I selected the Archive/Install option. The upgrade went great...no worries...all my applications were still there in my dock after the upgrade. The first thing I did (after playing with some new features of Panther) was build Ruby 1.8.1. You can read my instructions on how to do this here. Last night I needed to jump back into a super-secret cool Ruby project I am planning that uses Flash. I will blog that project as I get something to show, but the problem arose when I clicked on the Flash icon. The icon started bouncing, then just stopped. No error messages, no dialog boxes...nothing.
I actually paid $$$ for a Macromedia Devnet subscription so I called the hotline (yeah right!). It was 7:30pm EST (4:30 on the west coast) and their tech support was closed! OK...so...I just started Googling around a bit and discovered that Macromedia now incorporates activation technology into their programs. One listing I found stated that you should deactivate the product prior to installing Panther. Nice suggestion, but too late for me. Suck!
So, I went on a deletion spree and removed all hints of Macromedia stuff from my computer. I removed the folders in the Applications folder, the /Library/Application Support/Macromedia folder and the ~/Library/Application Support/Macromedia folder. I then re-installed the application. I figured this purging would suffice, but lo and behold demons were still present. I double-clicked on the Flash 2004 icon and it bounced around and the quit...just like before. Suck^2!
The next day I called tech support and finally reached a human and told them my problem. They recommended that I remove all the Macromedia folders and try again. I told them I already did, and that threw them off the script a bit...then they told me they would call me back. I got many calls. Each one asking me to try something that I had already done, like installing other Macromedia apps (Dreamweaver, etc). All those apps behaved the exact same way. I did some more searching and stumbled across this page. About half way down you see a section titled Mac OS 10.3 user authentication dialog fail.
Just before reading this I opened up the Console application to see if there were any reported errors there. What I saw was re-enforced by what the release note said. I saw a message "Authentication Service: Started" appear just before the bouncing Flash icon died. Hm...smells like smoke. It seems that there is this creepy little application in this creepy little folder (/Library/Application Support/Macrovision/AuthenticationService). Ah ha! I cried and promptly removed this folder, removed all the Macromedia folders (again) and re-installed. I then clicked on the Flash 2004 application and it bounced a couple of times, then quit...just like before. Suck^3!
Fortunately Macromedia tech support called back and told me to try something. They said to delete this folder named /Library/Application Support/Macrovision. "Been there--done that!", was my reply, and they told me it was time to escalate the problem to the next level of tech support. I was really just pissed at this point. Then something struck me...plists. What if this damned Authentication Service had little plists somewhere. I went to the /Library/Preferences and there I found a Macrovision directory. "Move to trash" was what I said and then double-clicked on the Flash 2004 application and....
Bam! The dialog that said "You need to activate Flash on this computer..."
Yippie. I entered my 10^1000 digit license code and...chorus of angels singing...Flash worked (as did Dreamweaver, etc). So, like a good citizen I called back Macromedia and told them how I fixed their freaking activation service. They were so thankful that they closed the issue and charged me one of my tech support incidents.
A couple of lessons learned:
(1) If Macromedia did not have cool technology, I would never do business with them.
(2) Activation-based software license enforcement sucks^4!