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Unfortunately, somebody doesn't know that a parsec is a measure of distance, not time.
a unit of distance used in astronomy, equal to about 3.26 light years (3.086 × 1013 kilometers). One parsec corresponds to the distance at which the mean radius of the earth's orbit subtends an angle of one second of arc.
Although bizarrely, a parsec has time in its definition.
These days at the office I'm in charge of emailing license activation keys to customers who request them if, say, their machines can't access the internet to do automatic activation after a new install.
We have a dialog box that shows users their license key, a unique machine code, and a text field in which they're expected to paste the activation key we generate for them. There's clear instructions on that dialog box that they need to email us their license key and machine code, and there's a button to copy those values to the clipboard.
Every once in a while someone will send us a screenshot of the dialog box showing the key/machine code. Which means we have to type in those values. Neither are exactly short strings, so there's always a risk of us mistyping something - this is why there's a "copy to clipboard" button, so we can copy them from a plain text source.
When interacting to customers, I always go out of my way to be a nice guy, but sometimes I'm very tempted to respond in kind, by taking a screenshot of our licensing software showing the activation key they have to paste, with the note, "now you know why that Copy button is there".
Jorgan has it right. This is for those people who can't have the software automatically activate itself because their machine is isolated or locked down in some fashion that prevents it from accessing the internet.
The best we can do under those circumstances is prepare all the information they need to send to us.
Otherwise, what you're suggesting is already in place. The user only sees magic, as you put it.
I still don't understand. If their machine can't access the internet then they have to use another machine to see your instructions and email you back with numbers displayed on their machine. If you don't specifically tell them not to send a screenshot then it's reasonable for them to take a picture, so that they don't have to write down the numbers to type into to the other machine.
If you don't specifically tell them not to send a screenshot then it's reasonable for them to take a picture, so that they don't have to write down the numbers to type into to the other machine
That's why we give them a button to copy that text to the clipboard. If you've remoted into the machine that's not connected to the internet, it's even easier to paste it back (Ctrl-V) from the clipboard, than launching some tool to take a screenshot.
I hang around in IT troubleshooting forums every now and then and indeed, the new habit of posting screenshots as much as possible instead of text is extremely annoying. In the meantime, I go as far as to tell people to post the error message (or whatever message they get) in text.
I routinely receive screen captures encapsulated inside Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents, with Excel being the most popular. I've never received one in an Access or Publisher format, and only one as a OneNote file (how apropos).
I empathize with the OP, however. We have a similar scheme with dongles that are field programmable. The user gives us a serial number and we send them an activation code that is a list of 8-15 four-digit numbers. Even though we handle copy/paste nicely, we still get phone screen captures that are blurred and barely readable.