Hello for the month of June 2007. To those who complain about the paucity of material: I remind you, this is a free service! Send me on assignment to another country, I’ll post once a day.
There was a good article in the paper today about CAPTCHAs. These are the dumb little visual puzzles you have to solve when you want to do something online to prove you’re not a spam robot. (I sometimes have one on my site, but all you have to do there is check that box. Big woop.) Usually the puzzles are some screwed-up word with lines going through it or funky colors. The paper was pointing at that the spammers are catching on and getting smarter all the time, so these puzzles are now to the point where it might be too hard to solve them.
So the first interesting link is to a site where spammers brag about beating the puzzles. It includes visual examples and humorously bad commentary about how weak the puzzles are. Example: “Work for one hour if work not too fast.”
The other interesting idea was, why not put people to work and have them solve these puzzles as a way to help deal with the problems of digitizing books? (We all know how everyone feels about stealing books.) Since scanning technology can’t read everything perfectly, and people solve these millions of times a day, the idea is a good use of otherwise wasted labor.