Saturday, September 11, 2004

A New Low in Product Activation

At anti-virus renewal time I upgraded to Norton AV 2005. The product requires activation, which I don't mind.

I do mind the geniuses who included both I (ASCII 0x49) and "l" (ASCII 0x6C) in the activation key character set and presented it on the Symantec web site in a sans-serif font. This gave a result of:


But look closely:


Since the mixed case adds one bit per character, they saved one character off the product key at the expense of better than 1 in 2 odds of the customer working into a rage when they type the wrong character.

(I'm computing the odds based on 26 * 2 + 10 characters in the set, two similar characters, each with a 1:2 odds of being typed wrong, with 25 instances of the set. My math may be off, but not the idea.)

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