If you’ve ever run across a website that checks to see whether or not you’re the human you claim to be :-), you’re likely familiar with the images on the left. As you may also know, this is called a CAPTCHA box, or, in long form, Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart. (No I’m not kidding…)
When the letters and numbers are easy to decipher, I feel like this is a pretty ingenious invention. But when I can’t tell a Z from a 7 and an L, I tend to get a tad cranky. In fact, these CAPTCHA boxes can frustrate me to the point that I decide that whatever I needed from the website is over-ridden by my impatience.
This weekend was a perfect example. I’d come across one of the most eye-crossing CAPTCHA boxes I’d ever seen. As if the letters and numbers alone weren’t bad enough, I didn’t have my glasses on, which created a small case of astigmatism on steroids. Thankfully, there’s usually a refresh button. Which I pushed about 11 times. But every time I’d make an attempt at cracking the code, I got an error message that questioned my very existence. So, I finally decided to get up out of my chair, walk into the other room and retrieve my glasses. Of course while I was in there, I got a little side-tracked, looked in the refrigerator and contemplated dinner, grabbed a glass of tea, checked the mail and flipped through a new magazine. About 10 minutes later, I remembered why I’d gone into the other room in the first place. Which is what I knew would happen before I ever got out of my chair.
Colton came in about that time, so I enlisted his help, because my glasses just made the image clearer and brighter – not easier to read.
“That’s easy, Mom,” Colton said. “It’s 5b48MNPq9b”
“There’s no way,” I responded as I typed in his code.
And as luck would have it, the code was 5b48MNPq9b. At that point, though, I’d totally lost interest in the website and didn’t care if it offered free gold to its visitors. I didn’t like the site’s CAPTCHA box. So I decided to see what I could find out about the makers of these boxes.
While there seem to be a plethora of captcha box makers, I payed a little visit to the official CAPTCHA website. To be fair, they seem to design boxes that even I can figure out. What’s really cool, though, is the website’s other options for human verification checkers.
SQUIGL-PIX. is really more fun that I should be allowed to have. In order to verify your existence, you have to trace something with your mouse, which magically turns into a yellow pen. I should probably mention that I failed the first SQUIGL-PIX box, though :-).
ESP-PIX is almost as fun. The site visitor is shown a series of photos or images, then chooses a word that relates to all of the images from a drop-down box. So there may be hope for me and those silly boxes after all.
Nevertheless, I think this cartoon from Brad Colbow pretty much sums up my feelings about these CAPTCHA boxes: