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.

Why didn’t I think of this?

I saw an interesting article on Yahoo! the other day. It appears that someone at Carnegie Mellon came up with the idea to use a CAPTCHA script to mask e-mail addresses. Basically, they provide you with special link code to put in place of your normal mailto link. You can use the link anyway you want, but the script generates some HTML code automatically that looks similar to:

user<a href="" onclick="'', '', 'toolbar=0,scrollbars=0,location=0,statusbar=0,menubar=0,resizable=0,width=500,height=300'); return false;" title="Reveal this e-mail address">...</a>

In the example above, the whole e-mail address would actually be [email protected], but the rest of the username is obscured by the script. Of course, they also supply you with just the address to the CAPTCHA page, so that you can build your own link any way you want.

The link, in turn, leads to a page with a CAPTCHA script. Once you correctly answer the CAPTCHA question, you’re lead to another page with the complete e-mail address. The script is called Mailhide, and it appears to be a completely free utility. It’s such a simple idea that I can’t believe no one thought of this before.