gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for September 2010

The Ironclad CAPTCHA is not so ironclad

September 21, 2010 @ 01:12 By: gordon Category: Meta

The number of comments that have gotten through the Ironclad CAPTCHA since I installed it yesterday but been caught by Akismet is significantly higher than the number that slipped past SI CAPTCHA. I suppose I could do away with the CAPTCHA altogether, but then I’d have to wade through the Akismet queue on a regular basis.

So, I’ve switched back to SI CAPTCHA while I look for something more effective. There are some picture-based CAPTCHAs that require the user to pick a specific image out of a collection of  images. One is Confident CAPTCHA, which has an online demo. It requires the user to pick several images in the correct order to prove you’re not a ’bot. The problem I can see with it is that it’s too much of an inconvenience and requires a user to spend longer than they’d probably want to to pass the CAPTCHA.

So the search for a more effective CAPTCHA continues.

In the mean time, I leave you with this thought: All spammers must die.

Trying another CAPTCHA

September 19, 2010 @ 12:49 By: gordon Category: Meta


In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams wrote about a device called an electronic thumb. Electronic thumbs were used by hitchhikers to flag down passing spaceships and help them get on board. Since not all spaceship captains were inclined to give hitchhikers lifts, some engineers spent all their time creating new devices to protected against electronic thumbs. This lead to the engineers creating electronic thumbs that could defeat these new devices, leading to even more anti-thumb devices, leading to better electronic thumbs, leadi…. you get the idea.

The people who create CAPTCHAs and the programmers who work for the spammers are locked in a similar epic battle.


The Duracell MyGrid commericals

September 17, 2010 @ 12:47 By: gordon Category: Gadgets, Seen on the 'net

I’ve seen a couple of commercials for the Duracell MyGrid, a charging mat for cell phones and other gadgets. Every commercial ends with a URL (duracell.ca/mygrid) that will, presumably, take you to the product page on the Duracell Canada website.

Faithfully typing the address into my browser, I was rewarded with a 404 error.

Hopefully Duracell will sort this out soon because I wanted to check it out and give a bit of a review of it. (Also, it really defeats the whole point of advertising a URL in an ad.) image

Update: As commenter Ken pointed out, www.duracell.ca/mygrid does take you to the product page, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the advertised URL is broken.

Fall 400 recap

September 13, 2010 @ 09:00 By: gordon Category: Dragonboats

Saturday was the 9th annual Fall 400 dragonboat races in Carleton Place. The weather was perfect for racing, with sunshine and almost no wind and the Algonquin College Singapore Slings were in fine form.

Altogether, we had three 400m races. Our first race of the day saw us set a new team best for 400m, 01:49.73. Our second race was 1:52.22 and our third race was 1:50.13. The combined times of our best two races was 3:39.92, which put us in 13th place out of 44 teams.

After the first race, my throat was quite sore from yelling the signals to our caller and calling the series and finish. Fortunately, a couple of other people on the team were heading out to do some shopping so I tagged along and picked up some industrial-strength lozenges (aka Cepacol), which helped immensely. I sucked up a far from recommended number of them before the end of the day, but my throat felt better for it.

So, that’s the end of dragonboat racing for this year. It was a great year overall and we improved immensely as a team. I’m looking forward to the 2011 season and just wish we could keep practicing every week.

The Vango Banshee 300

September 02, 2010 @ 21:41 By: gordon Category: Reviews

I love camping, but except for my recent trip to the UK, I haven’t been camping in several years. Going camping in Scotland and near Haltwhistle reignited my interest.

I picked up a Vango Banshee 300 tent from a GOoutdoors store while on vacation. It’s a very nice three-man tent that consists of an outer fly with two aluminum poles that you pitch first, which will be great in the rain because you can keep the inner tent dry while setting it up. Once it’s set up you then attach the inner tent to the fly using a simple toggle and loop system and you’re done. There’s even a small vestibule to leave your boots in so that you don’t track mud into it.

Weighing in at just 2.5 kilograms, it can be packed into a 12L compression sack, making it ideal for backpacking. It took me about 20 minutes to set it up the first time, which is twice as long as the Vango website suggests – I wasn’t in a rush and I’m sure I’ll get faster!

The inner tent has a waterproof floor and is made of orange material. The outer fly is made of a heavier material that is dark green.

There are vents on each end of the fly the can be closed if you want. Inside, the “head” end of the tent has a large screen for lots of ventilation.

Overall, I’m glad I bought the Vango Banshee 300 for under £90 when I was in the UK because I think a comparable tent here would cost several hundred dollars.

I’m looking forward to my next camping trip! 🙂