I swear, by all and everything I hold near and dear, that I'm not making any of this up, nor am I adding even so much as an iota of exaggeration or embellishment; devices normally excused as an exercise of "poetic license" or some such. The following is merely a direct bit of truth-telling, straight up.
Regular readers of Sounds & Fury know about my acquisition a few weeks ago of a new toy: Microsoft Office Word 2007 (hereafter referred to as Word). I obtained my copy of Word by downloading from Microsoft online the entire Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 suite containing the Word application as, oddly enough, it's the cheapest way to acquire Word which is the only application in that suite of four applications I'll be using as I can see no reason to ever have to use any of the other three.
What I downloaded is called a Trial Version. The Trial Version operates exactly the same as the regular version except it works for only 90 days, after which time it simply ceases to function unless you choose to "convert" it into the regular version. The Trial Version is free, and a neat way to try everything out before deciding whether or not to actually buy the product. A sharp marketing move on Microsoft's part, and one that benefits both Microsoft and Microsoft's customers.
The way one converts a Trial Version to a regular version, or Perpetual Version as it's called, is to simply buy the retail version from any retailer, online or brick-&-mortar; open the CD case; and read off from some location therein or thereon a 25-character code called the Product Key which uniquely identifies that copy of the software. One then simply brings up any one of the four Trial Version Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 applications in one's computer, clicks on a button labeled variously (depending on the application) Activate or Convert (there are other methods provided, but they all do the same thing), types the Product Key into the text box that appears, clicks the OK button, and the Trial Version software then converts itself automatically into a Perpetual Version, registers itself online with Microsoft, and you're home free with a brand-new Perpetual Version of the entire Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 suite without having to either uninstall the Trial Version, or install a new Perpetual Version from the CD.
Simple, slick, painless, and foolproof. Typical Microsoft.
So, after using Word for some weeks and loving it, I order from Amazon the retail version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007. Amazon ships on 22 September by snail-mail, and the expected delivery date is quoted as 29 September to 9 October using Super Saver free shipping. On 14 October the package has still not arrived, and so I call Amazon, they assume it's been lost in the mail and so ship me out another by regular snail-mail with a quoted delivery of 18 October. The package arrived yesterday — the original shipment, that is, not the replacement which as of this date has yet to arrive.
No problem. I now have my retail copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 which contains the Product Key, and I'm all set to convert my Trial Version by the above outlined procedure.
But there is a problem. I can't open the very sexily- and totally unconventionally-shaped Lucite CD case (see illustration at the above Amazon link) to get inside and read the Product Key. I don't merely mean the case is hard to open. I mean I can't figure out how it's supposed to open. The bloody thing is like a Rubik's Cube, only more complex because no obvious way of manipulating it.
There's a clue, however. There's a little red-colored strip of tape sticking up from the case's top edge all but inviting one to give it a pull. And so I give it a pull. Nothing. I mean, nothing budges; not the little red strip nor anything else. I give the strip a harder pull. Again nothing. The strip is strong, I'll give it that, and it's not snapping from my pulling, but it refuses to budge either itself or any other part of the Lucite case.
After about three-quarters of an hour of pulling and tugging, along with a number of thoughtful but unsuccessful attempts at trying to figure out how the Lucite case is supposed to open, that little strip of unbudging red tape still remains my only hope. And so finally, in an access of sheer frustration and desperation, I get a pair of pliers, grasp the little red strip in its jaws, and give a healthy pull, upon doing which the tape finally snaps away from the Lucite case, defiant to the very end, and I'm now left completely helpless and bereft of hope in the face of this unyielding Lucite monster.
Now I'm really pissed. I get on the phone to Microsoft. I get one of their outsourced "technicians" somewhere in India. Oh Christ! Not this, too. But I'm at my wit's end, and I'm now really, really pissed, and nothing — nothing!, not even a barely understandable, outsourced Indian "technician" — is going to prevent my getting to the bottom of this, and getting that damn case open.
I tell her the problem as calmly as I'm able. She tells me it's easy to open the case. All I have to do is to "gently" pull that little red strip up and back, and the case will then swing open on its hinged bottom.
Hinged bottom? There's a hinge? Turns out, indeed there is — if one knows where to look for it. I tell her that the little red strip exists no more because when I pulled on it "gently," it snapped. She says, no problem. Microsoft has a special website that tells one, step by step, how to open the Lucite case, and there's certain to be another solution there waiting for me.
Microsoft has a special website devoted to telling its customers how to open its products' Lucite CD cases? What is that? Some kind of ironic or perverse joke?
But I've come this far — this far being something over an hour and a half at this point — and I'm not going to give up now. I'm going to get that bloody Lucite case opened come hell or high water. I ask her for the website's URL. She begins to spell it out for me. When she gets to the 32nd character with a promise of many more characters to come, I explode. I throw down the phone, go to my toolbox, get out the ball-peen hammer, and smash the Lucite case to smithereens. Mercifully, the CD is left unharmed, and — mirabile dictu! — staring at me from one of the shattered fragments is the 25-character Product Key. I pick up the phone, thank the "technician" for her help and bid her adieu, fire up my computer, load Word, click on Activate, enter the Product Key into the text box, click OK, and within seconds I'm home free and the proud owner of a brand-new Perpetual Version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007.
Piece of cake.