Monday, March 12, 2012
My word verification hell
I have wrestled long and hard with my conscience before posting this. I feel like an old guy in a grubby rain coat who has spent the last 50 years keeping a dirty secret to himself: "Psst I get off on surgical casts."
Thankfully this is not my confession but it's almost as embarrassing. OK here goes. I regularly fail word verification.
I'm not sure if I'm alone in this but the letters are often so funny and jumbled they are hard to read. Somebody is clearly having a laugh. What's most alarming is there's a spiel that says you have to go through the ordeal of word verification to prove you are human, and by implication, not a robot.
(Pause to remove a small aerial from the back of head).
This is unnerving because robots are generally not sympathetic sorts of fellows. Ash in Ridley Scott's 1979 movie Alien was a robot and he lacked the quality of empathy that humans can occasionally display. Ash was also played by Ian Holm who was later to be cast in the role of another sinister character with hairy feet to boot (or rather no boot), - Bilbo Baggins.
Ash is eventually deactivated. He's also decapitated. But his decapitated head is reactivated to provide the crew the truth about the bloodless one. Ash tells the crew the company installed him on board the spaceship to ensure the creature was brought to them, and the crew's lives were expendable, all of which sounds about par for the course for your average US company, even if it's not spelled out in the manual on the day you meet the nice man from HR.
After informing the crew all they know about the creature, that has already wrecked John Hurt's lunch, Ash tells the crew, "You have my sympathies," regarding their chances of survival.
The crew don't appear to believe Ash's head is any more sincere than the rest of him was. Ripley pulls the plug on Ash and Parker burns his head.
And nobody lives happily ever after. The excursion into Alien took me some way away from word verification, but you get the drift.
Normally I don't have much to do with word verification. I'll avoid your blog like a mild bout of the black death if you have word verification on the comments. It's not personal.
But in the wonderful world of marketing I find myself coming across word verification on numerous occasions. None of them are pleasant as the wall would be able to testify if walls could testify.
I really can't see the point of this torture. The official line from Blogger on word verification is: "What this does is to prevent automated systems from adding comments to your blog, since it takes a human being to read the word and pass this step.
"If you've ever received a comment that looked like an advertisement or a random link to an unrelated site, then you've encountered comment spam. A lot of this is done automatically by software which can't pass the word verification, so enabling this option is a good way to prevent many such unwanted comments."
Grudgingly I concede there's a point to it but I'll take the unwanted comments. They must be lonely if nobody else does.
I'm also scratching my head about why the letters need to be so bizarre looking and illegible. Surely there's a better way. I'm sure it was easier to make out the writings on the side of a pyramid.
A few days ago I discovered there is something of an alternative in that a voice can instead tell you what the characters are.
The trouble is the voice is tinny and sinister and guaranteed to completely put you off your stride. It sounds a bit like Ash telling me: "You have my sympathies."