April 14, 2009

CAPTCHAs – New and Improved!

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Do you remember when you were filling out forms on the internet and reached the last page, only to see at the bottom that you need to spell out a random, arbitrary word hidden by weird type face and an ungodly amount of scribbles on a small image?

Do you remember the frustration you felt when you pressed submit and you mistyped one letter and the ENTIRE PAGE reset?

Do you remember the rage you felt when you went back to the image, only to have a new one pop up?

Or is that just me?

These annoying little images are known as CAPTCHAs, short for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”. They were originally created as a security function to prevent users from setting up a brute force hacking program in an attempt to guess a password. The ridiculousness of these captchas, however, is getting out of control as seen here. Honestly, how am I supposed to tell what some of these say? The time it takes me to figure it out could be better used for something else.

So it was a relief when somebody came up with a working concept of using 3D renders to replace the typing aspect of a captcha.

The idea is simple, instead of ridiculous groupings of letters, a few pictures will be up and the site will ask the user to click on a specific picture. If the picture clicked is wrong, then the site will reset and you will have to go through it again.

So the implementation of a captcha has been simplified a bit, but who can blame the creators? I don’t want to have to type in “ASJE JSO1”or something else each time I search for something on a forum that tries to limit traffic. In fact, I welcome this new idea, it still acts as a security feature against automated programs by demanding an actual response from the user and at the same time, it saves all of us a lot of headaches by making it actually understandable.