Why is Everything so “Flashy”?

I’m sure this problem has always been around, but I hadn’t noticed it nearly as much for the last few years. So many people seem to be using Flash on their sites again, relying on it, and javascript, to render much of their design.

The problem, of course, is that a user without javascript or without Flash, doesn’t get to see much of what everyone else sees.

So, my question is why everyone seems to be using so much Flash again, recently? Why are so many home pages being built almost completely with Flash, only to completely fall apart when javascript of Flash is disabled? Why use Flash at all when 99% of the things being done with Flash (aside from things like YouTube videos, etc.) could be done with javascript and AJAX nowadays, and could be built to degrade gracefully for those without javascript?

An interesting discussion on this subject was started over at CollegeWebGuy.com. Since then, I’ve come across even more examples, though I don’t really feel right in sharing them.

It just bothers me, as someone who railed against Flash for so long only to see the days of pointless Flash splash pages finally go by the wayside. Now, to see Flash seemingly making a comeback in such a big way (at least, among higher education Web sites) really upsets me. To me, it actually seems almost lazy.

Why bother putting in the effort to develop sound DOM javascript and AJAX that degrades when you can put something together in Flash in a few minutes?

Enough of my tirade. What are your thoughts? Am I just super-sensitive to this, or are you noticing a comeback in Flash usage, as well? Does it bother you to see that, or are you okay with it? If Flash is necessary for certain applications, what are some ways you can make it accessible to disabled users?

Now, That’s an Annoying CAPTCHA

RapidShare CAPTCHAI use RapidShare, occasionally to share files back and forth between friends. I never felt it warranted to pay for the service, as, if I really got hard up, I could always just give those friends FTP accounts on one of my servers. However, being that I’ve never paid for a RapidShare subscription, I’ve always had to deal with their CAPTCHA scripts.

Over the last few months, they’ve “upgraded” their CAPTCHAs a few times. The most recent upgrade has made the CAPTCHA nigh impossible to decipher in many cases. I find myself having to try two or three times before finally getting the code right.

I’ve posted a screen shot of one of the CAPTCHAs they’re using on RapidShare so that you can see if you agree with me. The point of the CAPTCHA is this: they’ve included eight random characters in the image. Four of those characters have a picture of a cat, and the other four have a picture of something that looks a heck of a lot like that cat. You have to figure out which four have the real picture of the cat, and type those into the box.

It should be noted that the screen shot I’ve included has not been altered or resized.  That is exactly what the CAPTCHA looks like on screen.