Security Check

You know that thing you have to do when you want to leave a comment on a blog or buy tickets to an Oakland A’s game, which you might still be able to do if the A’s hadn’t  just totally collapsed and lost in four straight games their chance of going to the World Series, not that we blame them because they’re a young, scrappy team and they looked like they were having fun when it actually SNOWED in Detroit, as they were losing those last two games. 

I digress.  What happens is you’re presented with a long string of random letters and told to retype them, to prove you’re not a weirdo trying to steal someone’s bank account numbers or push viagra. Everyone knows that spammers refuse to try to retype long strings of letters, particularly if there’s any distortion in them.  They’re too busy going after the easy marks, the people who actually will email them back the password to their retirement account so they can get back to buying things on Ebay.  

Anyway, it turns out you have a lot in common with the guy in North Korea who wants to sell you some used uranium.  Like him, you sit at your computer, staring at something like this —  qzxmpwepjoxxcyltvqum — except the string of letters is so distorted that the y looks like a j or maybe a q.  I have never, ever retyped those letters correctly the first time I’ve tried.  Just like the spammers.  And just like the spammers, sometimes I don’t even try.  On bad days, I just want to lie down and sleep when I see that string of letters.

I recently learned that it doesn’t have to be this way.  BookMooch, for example, has figured this out. On their site, all you have to do is re-type the name of a famous writer.  Apparently the purveyors of suspicious pharma and financial schemes cannot type the names of famous writers either.  So that’s it. “Cather” I can do. Even if it’s distorted.  I’d work hard to find out which writer they wanted me to retype.  It’s the exact opposite of what happens when I see qzxmpwepjoxxcyltvqum.  If I can’t lie down right away, I consider buying a pharmaceutical product.   One that would sharpen my eyesight, make my hands steadier, and help me concentrate.  Oh, that’s a latte?  Except for the steady hands part.  I could do that, but I’d have to step away from my computer to accomplish it.

Wanting to make the world a better place and to make it easier for me to buy things on the internet and leave worthless comments on blogs, I’ve resolved to email the people who run Blogger (if they’re not too busy spending all the money they got yesterday from Google delivered in three semi-trucks filled with cash) and suggest they start having people type in the names of really, really good food as their security check. Creme anglaise I can type. I am good with gorgonzola. And if I don’t know what it is (sweetbreads, for example), I might actually look it up and increase my store of knowledge.  I can’t see a Nigerian pyramid schemer sitting still for that.  Or maybe they could have us retype the names of great bloggers and blogreaders. (If you are reading this, then that would be you.) But please, let’s get rid of qzxmpwepjoxxcyltvqumo.

 And that’s all I have to say about anything this lovely Sunday morning.


12 thoughts on “Security Check

  1. Oh, I agree completely! I can’t ever get those letter-strings right on the first try, either. As long as computers can’t read (they can’t actually, can they?) I don’t see why real words wouldn’t be good enough.

  2. I agree with you here. I could come up with some more silly categories for this (titles of films with Bill Nighy in it?) but let’s not go there.

    The thing (to Diana) is that some computers actually can read the words if they are not made unreadable like they are. The problem is just that humans can’t read them anymore either. And all this fun because of people who don’t know how to behave themselves.

  3. Maybe typing those strings of warped letters should be required of people making goverment policies and decisions just in case they are in those defocused, crazed states of mind that the rest of us are in because of those policies and decisions as well as when we are verifying passwords. And I’m quite sure, very sure, well, it certainly must be the case, that the presidents and associates who have their fingers on nuclear bomb release codes actually do have to retype the warped numbers. Can you check on that, please.

  4. Can I second (or third, or fourth!) the sentiment – I’m so glad it’s not just me!! What I particularly hate is the distorted words on the faux stone background. I have got up to at least five times trying to retype those words, I thought the computer was going to call the police on me.

    Once I went to BookMooch and the word to type in was Buckman, which is the name of the guy who runs the site (maybe this is also a famous writer, I don’t know) but I thought that was funny.

  5. Helen, That cracks me up too. I think John Buckman is a terrific guy.

    Smokey, Sure. I’ll contact my sources at The Highest Levels and get back to you. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure just about any two-syllable word would defeat our government’s best efforts.

    Yes, Ingrid, Who knew that people are as stymied as computers with those weirdly slanted letters?

    It is never just you LitLove — being in your company is one of the pleasures of the net.

    Diana, It sounds like you’ll sign up for the Real Words Crusade then? I’m working on an icon. A string of q’s and j’s and l’s and x’s with a big red slash through it should do.

  6. Oooh, I’m so with you on this. Since I usually catch up on blogs at bedtime, and have to type in those stupid letters so many times that they’ve actually shown up in my dreams, over and over again. Yech! I wanted to tell you about an interesting site I came across today that I thought you and your readers might be interested in: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: A Blog about Books >. Two feisty librarians have their say about books–it’s quite interesting.

  7. Oh, even though I’m no longer a librarian, I’ll take that compliment (as one of my friends loves to remind me, “Once a librarian, always a librarian”). Meanwhile, so, so glad to hear I’m in such good company when it comes to typing in those long letter strings, and I’m all for the fine foods idea (as long as the mention of food doesn’t keep leading me away from the computer and into my kitchen).

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