Like a lot of people, I am often annoyed by “captchas”, those ludicrous things where you have to squint sideways at some wildly distorted text and attempt to decipher it and type it into a box to “prove” that you’re an actual human rather than a spambot. Given that AI systems can defeat most captcha systems, and seriously determined spammers employ cheap labour to manually decode the filthy things, they end up being nothing more than an annoyance to legitimate users. Like other attempts to solve behavioural problems with technology (copy protection, software activation, DRM, Windows Bloody Genuine Complete Disadvantage), it does nothing to stop the actual offenders and simply serves to annoy legitimate users. Unlike AI-driven spambots, I find some captcha systems singularly difficult to interpret, and I’d be much happier if people stopped using them.
But it seems it could get worse rather than better. If there’s one thing more irritating that captchas, it’s aggressively in your face adverts on websites. I don’t mean banner ads, or contextual adverts of the Google variety, so much as floating ads that take over the page if you accidentally move your mouse pointer over the wrong point. Or those damn silly fake loading page ads that appear before showing you the page you’ve asked for.
So, what’s the worst thing you can think of? Yes! It’s video bloody ads with the bloody captcha embedded in them, so you have to watch the advert to see the floating text to type into the box so you can register with the site, or post a comment, or whatever the photon it was you went to the site for in the first place.
New Scientist reports that this particularly loathsome scheme is being offered by a Canadian company called NuCaptcha.
Any site using this might as well put a big sign up reading We hate our customers. I’d have to be really desperate to log on to a site to put up with this kind of nonsense. In general, I’d be more inclined to go elsewhere.
 Seriously. I don’t so much mind Microsoft treating its customers as criminals until they can prove otherwise, as them popping up damn silly messages telling me that the hoop -jumping they make me do is for my own benefit.
 Product activation, repeatedly having to prove that a licensed Windows installation is legitimate, etc, etc…
 See the New Scientist article if you want a link to them. I prefer not to directly link to anything so horrible