SN Not Valid: A Non-Fiction Novella by Emily Berk

Subject: SN Not Valid: A Non-Fiction Novella by Emily Berk
From: Berk/Devlin <armadill -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 22:01:56 -0800

Chapter 1

Summary: Grade D-
Elapsed time: 6 hours and not yet installed.

Well, I bought the upgrade in July. But my clients at the time did not want to upgrade and I did not want to rock the boat. So, I kept the CD sealed, with the security plastic intact, in its nice jewel box in the nice box with the documentation, on a dry, dust-free, room-temperature shelf in my office.

And today, because I have a client who wants me to use FrameMaker 6.0, and wants results soon, I ventured into the unknown. Installing the upgrade to FM 5.5.6.

Guys, I have a degree in computer science. I can program in assembly language. But, after 6 hours, I have not gotten past the screen that tells me I've entered an invalid serial number.

I did the hard part first. I broke the seal using my handy tiny screwdriver. Did not even scratch the case. I did not even drag too far, as I often do, and stab myself in the left hand. No blood on the jewel case. Little did I know that THAT was to be the high point of my day.

Then, I placed the CD, label UP in my CD drive drawer. And, closed the drawer. The little yellow light began to flash. And a rectangle on the bottom right appeared. From the start it read, "InstallShield 99% loaded."

And, then, it sat there. For about ten minutes. I am NOT exaggerating. Every once in a while, the yellow light on the CD drive flashed, to give me hope.

After ten minutes, I decided, well, maybe my CD reader is not working. Opened the drawer. It told me the drive was in use, but I insisted on ejecting the disk anyway. I picked the disk up, looked for scratches. None. Put the disk back in, label up. Closed the drawer again.

Repeated this procedure a number of times. Wiped the CD once in a while. Sometimes after I'd close the drawer, it would say, "CD not found." Sometimes it would not complain. I rebooted a few times and tried the procedure again.

Eventually, I thought, well, maybe there's another problem. I deleted stuff from my hard drive (maybe it needs more than 13 GB...???) I de-fragged the hard drive (maybe it's taking too long to hit the CD drive while it tries to copy files to my extremely fragmented hard drive...) Well that took a few hours.

Then, I decided, "Well, maybe the InstallShield really does need half an hour to load." (I've got a 1.5 year-old Pentium III with 384 MB of Ram, but hey there are faster machines ...) So, I started up the InstallShield, and it said, as is its wont, 99% loaded. I waited 10 minutes. Still 99% loaded. I went out to dinner. I came back and it asked me what language. Progress. I don't know if it took 11 minutes or 45 minutes. But WHOOPEE it loaded.

But, then came the hard part. It asked me to enter the serial number. Now, I don't have much experience at typing in serial numbers. I only install like several hundred computer programs a year. But hey, I can copy in a stupid, hexadecimal, separated-by-hyphens number. So, not knowing the frustration that awaited me, I found the number as advertised on the back of the jewel case and typed it in. No extra spaces, with hyphens.

Got a message that said, "Invalid serial number."

Hey, I'm a BSE in Computer Science Engineering. But I do make mistakes. I typed the number in again.

Message says, "Invalid serial number."

So, I typed it in AGAIN.

Message says, "Invalid serial number."

My partner's in the room. I say, "I'll read you the numbers; you type it in." I read. He types.

Message says, "Invalid serial number." We spend some time comparing the numbers on the jewel case with those on the screen.

He says, "Maybe you have to enter the serial number of the previous release."
He reads; I type.

Message says, "Invalid serial number."

OK. It's 5:02 pm PST. Customer service closes at: 5 pm.

So, I go to the Web site. Go to the knowledge base. I cannot believe I am searching for information about the d&%%*())-ed serial number.

You should try this, though. It's really interesting. If you search for

invalid serial number FrameMaker

You get 1510 hits!

None of the ones I looked at mention FrameMaker serial numbers.

The first one I read had to do with users of PageMaker getting Invalid Serial Number errors, however.

They were supposed to:

1. Enter the correct serial number, which is found on the back of the jewel case, or on the registration card. With hyphens and no spaces.
2. If it's an upgrade, enter the correct serial number, but try putting a space at the beginning.

So, I tried this. An hour later, "Invalid Serial Number".

Back to the knowledgebase. Did I tell you that in the knowledgebase the next page link is only at the top? So, you have to scroll down the whole page to read all the possibilities, and then, when you do not find any links that are relevant, you have to scroll back to the top to get to the next page link.

And, it gets better. I read through 200 of the 1501 records returned. Not one of them referred to Invalid serial numbers in FrameMaker, although there were Invalid Serial Number problems with every other Adobe product I have ever heard of, and they went all the way back to early in 1998 and all the way forward to 2001. However, on the page that ended at record 200, the next page link was disabled.

One of the Invalid Serial Numbers pages indicated that if the user could not enter a valid serial number, it was probably bad hardware. Sigh.

At this point, I'm thinking of migrating to MS Word.

I'm going to go try to mellow out now so I don't start screaming from the moment I call Customer Support in the morning.

Thanks for listening.

Chapter 2 -- tomorrow?

On the web at *** Armadillo Associates, Inc.
~ Project management, developer relations and
extremely-technical technical documentation that developers find useful.~


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