Author's note: this is not what I usually write about. If you're an educator considering purchasing a product from apchemsolutions.com, please read on! Otherwise, don't worry about it.
An educator I know recently contacted me for some IT help with a product they had purchased from apchemsolutions.com (AKA AP Chem Solutions). In helping this person, I was appalled by the level of contempt the creator(s) of this product have for their users. I strongly recommend against purchasing anything from AP Chem Solutions (which uses the domain apchemsolutions.com).
I completely understand that companies have a right to protect their intellectual property. However, AP Chem Solutions chooses to use DRM (digital rights management) software which harms its customers. Here are a few reasons I think their product is bad:
The educator who reached out to me receives an email with instructions on how to open the PDF files in the provided ZIP file. First, the user must have Adobe Reader installed. Then, there is a set of six to seven items which describe how to install a certificate on your computer. Then, there are a further 5 steps to get Adobe Reader set up to actually read the PDF's.
I have a degree in computer science, and I found these steps to be frustrating and annoying. It is no wonder that this person needed help! While I have immense respect for teachers, the amount of hoops this company expects them to jump through is beyond anything I would expect a teacher at any level to accomplish on their own.
Which brings us to the next point: admin access. To import this certificate in the first place, the customer is expected to enter the admin password for the computer. This might be all fine and dandy, except that it is rare for teachers to have admin access to the computers provided them by the school.
You know how much of a pain it is to interact with your IT department? Well, if you want to use this product, you're going to have to bug IT. And they might not want to help you with this. It's a very real possibility that your request will get denied and you will be completely unable to use the product you purchased from AP Chem Solutions.
All of my other concerns are more important than any of the minor things I'm listing here, but I wanted to list them:
Finally, the reason this company has had you jump through all these hoops in the first place: to keep you from printing or redistributing certain portions of the materials they have provided you. Would you like to print a copy of the slides for your students or a sub? You can't!
And forget about sharing the PDF's digitally; anyone you send them to will have to go through the same setup process you did. Good luck explaining that to them.
Rather than use restrictive, draconian DRM software, AP Chem Solutions should put its customers first. The company should provide its customers what they believe they have purchased: access to materials that will help them make students more successful free from restrictive DRM. Teachers, who are already overburdened, should not have to have a four year degree in computers just to use a product they have purchased.
To reiterate: please do not buy anything from AP Chem Solutions, which operates on the domain name apchemsolutions.com. It appears they care more about lining their pockets than they do about your ability to actually use the product you purchased.