It’s Past Time To Change Captchas!

I’m talking specifically about the captchas used on youtube (although ALL captchas need to address this issue!)

For Youtube’s captchas they need to address several things, not the least of which is the human readability factor. For people like myself whose vision isn’t what it used to be those things are a nightmare. I regularly have to hit the option to get a new one twenty to thirty times before I am presented one that I can actually read.

And before you suggest it, the audio option is even worse than the visual, so much noise is added to defeat voice recognition software that I simply can’t hear ANY of the actual captcha code.

Urgo6667, the guy who create the SocialBlade youtube stats tracking site has made a video in which he is addressing these issues and is trying to get youtube’s attention on the subject so that something can be done to fix the problem.

You can help by watching the video, leaving a comment on it, hitting thumbs up for it on youtube, favoriting it and sharing it with others that hate captchas and have problems with them.

Together we CAN make a difference!

[tags]captcha, captchas, annoying, hard, read, stupid, anti, spam, partners, YouTube, urgo, urgo6667[/tags]

b.scorecardresearch.com Causing Problems

On another of my blogs I noticed a severe problem this morning. It would start to load and then, once almost fully loaded it would switch to a blank page and hang indefinitely. According to my browser it was waiting for b.scorecardreasearch.com.

After doing some Googling I found that there’s been a lot of this going on. There are sites that are using a script from scorecardresearch.com in their widgets and apparently that script is broken, at least as far as Firefox 3.6 is concerned and it’s making sites not work as a result.

I did some trial and error testing and found that when I removed the Technorati widget from the blog in question, the problem stopped. Therefore, until somebody fixes it, I recommend turning off or removing Technorati and any other widgets that use scripts from scorecardresearch.com.

It seems they’re trying to build a web bug from javascript instead of using the traditional 1×1 or 0x0 pixel image that’s been in use for a long time.

Short answer: scorecardresearch (apparently associated with Comscore) needs to go, it’s breaking websites all over the place.

[tags]scorecardresearch, comscore, web bug, javascript, broken site, broken script, javascript[/tags]

8 Bit Nostalgia

It was a long time ago in a world now almost forgotten by the younger people of today that, for the most part, weren’t even born yet, and many of my contemporaries were still concerned about finding acne scar removal products that worked when I got my first computer. It was a Tandy Color Computer 3. I remember thinking how great it was that this machine had 128K of RAM and could be had for only $300. Disk drives were another expense, about half again the cost of the machine.

This was a time when the computer’s operating system could fit entirely within an 8K ROM chip, with the disk controller containing another 8K of code that handled the disk drives. The mere idea of a gigabyte was science fiction. Somewhere around then some of the first hard drives were coming into common use with five to ten megabytes of space (amazing when you realize that most programs today use more RAM than that just to load!)

One of the things that I liked about those days was that there was almost no such thing as sloppy programming. You couldn’t afford to be sloppy because you just didn’t have much memory or disk space to work with. Every byte had to serve a purpose and code needed to be written as tightly as possible. Even though the machine had 128 K of RAM, only about 23K was accessible to BASIC. If you wrote in assembly language you could command almost all of the available RAM but even then, you still had to know or be able to look up quickly, literally everything about the computer hardware and operating system.

Fast forward to today and look at the source code for modern software. The programmers for the most part have no need to know anything about the hardware being used and can get by with looking up just the things they need for their current project. Almost NOBODY knows “everything” about their computer anymore. In fact, most people are merely “users”, content to point & click their way through life with no idea of how or why things work.

What’s my point? None really other than I sometimes miss those old days and wish that old practices such as knowing *EVERY* detail about one’s machine (both hardware and OS) was not only practical but common as well.

By the way. I still have that Color Computer in storage. When I last had it set up about five years ago it still worked.

[Tags]nostalgia, computers, programming[/tags]

Epic Games Releases Free Version Of Unreal Engine

I’ve never been or had much inclination to be a game designer but I have played around some with various game editors like Qoole in building a QuakeII map (though as I recall, I never finished the project because I lost it all in a computer crash). Since then I haven’t done much with that sort of thing. With this recent release of the free version of the Unreal engine by Epic Games, I am once again thinking about some ideas that I’d like to mess around with.

Of course, anything I do will involve digging out my old Quake II disk because things have changed considerably since I last played around building QuakeII maps. Most notably is the hardware requirements. Back in those days the 32mb ATI Rage Pro video card that I have was *almost* top of the line and could easily handle anything I could throw at it. Now however, if you don’t have a high end Nvidia with 512 to 1024mb of video ram and hardware acceleration then you can’t even PLAY modern games, never mind do any kind of developing with them.

On the other hand, for those who have the hardware that can handle it, this Unreal engine looks like a golden opportunity to create not only maps for existing games but to go whole hog and create entire games. I’ll be surprised if in the next year or so I don’t see a whole mess of new games built with the Unreal engine.

[Tags]games, unreal, epic, free version, unreal development kit, game building, game maps[/tags]

Windows 7 Compatible Sticker Will Mean 64 Bit

Apparently Microsoft has managed to learn at least a little bit from the Vista compatibility disaster, although I still don’t think that they’re going to win any cigars for the way they’re handling Windows 7’s compatibility ratings.

The key quote from an item on PCPro reveals that if a machine has a “Compatible with Windows 7” sticker, then it is a 64 bit computer.

So what tests have Microsoft set for Windows 7 compatibility? The software giant states that any machine carrying the sticker will have to “work with all versions of Windows 7”. That includes the 64-bit versions of the operating system, which Microsoft claims “is an important change since 64-bit systems are becoming more mainstream”.

In some ways this isn’t bad news because 64bit systems really are becoming more “mainstream”. The bad part is, like the change from 16 bit to 32 bit, the change from 32 bit to 64 bit is going to be a big source of confusion and difficulty for a lot of people.

Obviously I’m not talking about the more tech minded, up to date people, rather a lot of “Joe Average” types that are going to run into an assortment of problems.

Just one good example is Windows 7’s “Windows XP Mode” that I’ve seen an increasing amount of talk about. The downside is that it requires a CPU / Chipset that has VT (Virtualization Technology). Where you get bitten in the backside there though is that even though you might have it, that doesn’t mean it’s enabled on your particular chip.

One slashdot commenter had this to say about it:

You have an E7400, do you have VT? Well, do you have an E7400-SLGQ8 or an E7400-SLGW3? It’s nothing that your IT department couldn’t slog through for you(and if you are really lucky, they’ve been speccing for it for some time now); but I pity the plight of the adventurous but dubiously detail oriented guy who learns that XP mode isn’t going to happen because he has the Q8300-SLB5W rather than the Q8300-SLGUR.

As you can see there’s a very real source of confusion here and that’s just with Intel chips, I have no idea where AMD and other chip makers stand on the issue. In the end only time and I”m sure a lot of unpleasant experiences will get things sorted out. For me, I consider things like this to be one of the very few benefits of being five to seven years behind in computer technology. By the time I can afford it, my stuff just works. It may not be able to do some of the whiz bang features of the latest state of the art stuff and it may not be as fast as I’d like but it does what I need it to do just the same.

Then there’s the fact that Microsoft has been claiming for a long time that any hardware capable of running Vista will be able to handle Windows 7. That may be (and in my opinion remains to be seen to be believed) but then there’s the Windows XP mode and the whole mess about VT. I also have no doubt that once machines start showing up in stores with Widows 7 bundled we’re going to be hearing about all manner of crap.

[Tags]microsoft, virtualization, virtualization technology, windows 7, windows 7 compatible, windows 7 compatibility, 64 bit, 32 bit[/tags]