Mirror, mirror, on the web, who was the most frustrated of them all?

I hope you haven’t succumbed to vanity and posted your photo in How-Old.net? It is mere vanity, like staring intently in a mirror: and if it dares tell you that you are a whisker over your real age, you won’t believe it anyway.

This morning I nearly took a selfie and posted it there to see if it would cope with ages over 100. And I put it all down to Adobe.

I have whinged repeatedly about Adobe tax, the monthly lease that you have to pay if you want to license Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps. Well I do not and cannot sign up to that sort of draconian commitment, despite having invested large sums in every upgrade to Creative Studio in the past.

So this morning I cracked. The time had come to move on to alternatives. I have already bought (but barely used) Pixelmator and Affinity Designer, which will probably be much better used than Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I have several web design tools in lieu of Dreamweaver, and it was time to get more value out of them too.

The gap remained in page and document layout.

Much as I would have preferred to use FrameMaker+SGML, Adobe decided some years ago that, as a Mac user, I was not good enough for it, and made it Windows-only. Although I love using LaTeX for technical work, there remains a gulf between it and ePub (and other) electronic publishing, which is still very hard to bridge.

Then I realised that Quark had just released QuarkXPress 2015, with its long and proud record of typographical excellence, its mature print publishing features, and now its royalty-free electronic publishing in both ePub (for iTunes) and Kindle formats. I had never used QuarkXPress much in the past, always being a bit Aldus/Adobe, but it would be a lovely opportunity to catch up with an old acquaintance.

I did the walk-away test too, going off and doing what I should have been doing, shuffling my large stacks of art books ready for the next series of articles here. I came back to the Quark online shop and just had to buy it.

Over the next couple of hours, How-Old.net would have changed its mind every few minutes. The purchase and download went flawlessly, but when it came to providing a validation code, I was stuck. None had appeared on my sales invoice, and no later email provided it. So I was confronted with the installer’s request for what seemed like 246 alphanumeric characters, when I could not even provide one.

So I went back onto the Quark website, rummaged around a bit, then decided that the only solution was to contact product support.

Having created myself a Quark Online Store account, complete with username and password, I tried entering those to raise a support incident. The website politely denied my existence. I tried sundry other tricks, only to discover that I needed at least two other online accounts, one for support, and the other as a customer.

For the first I had to provide my serial number, which would only be generated with a validation code, which I did not have. For the second I had to provide my Customer ID, which was not the same as the Customer Number on my sales invoice, and was thus nowhere to be found.

Eventually, after fobbing the webpage off with my customer number instead of a serial, I raised the support ticket, and very quickly received an email asking me for my name, address, etc. Shortly after that, I received three messages, each with my validation code. Although this glitch was very annoying and upsetting, and How-Old.net would probably have just mentioned Methuselah rather than hazarding a guess at my age, Quark’s support was first class.

By 1100 QuarkXPress was fully installed, validated, all my different accounts enabled, and I was enjoying my first look at its abilities.

I had also seen the rumour that How-Old.net is just a sneaky way of compiling an image database for intelligence agencies. Why they want to know who is the vainest, I do not know. But at least I did not snarl at them.