CAPTCHA are a thorn in the side of web users. Those almost indecipherable string of letters and numbers that are meant to help websites determine that you are a human rather than a spambot often cause more frustration for users than anything else, and they have now been cracked.
Vicarious, a California-based AI team, reveals that it has been able to develop algorithms that can successfully solve CAPTCHAs from the likes of Google, Yahoo and PayPal.
The cracking of CAPTCHAs by machine is nothing all that new, but Vicarious is reporting an extremely high success rate -- the algorithm is successful in up to 90 percent of cases. The company goes as far as saying that "this advancement renders text-based CAPTCHAs no longer effective as a Turing test". The Turing test -- introduced by Alan Turing, one of the old-masters of computing -- was developed to test whether a computer could pass itself off as a human being.
So Windows 8.1 is finally here and although it is a massive improvement over its predecessor (I recently had to install Windows 8 on a laptop and couldn’t believe how bad it is in comparison), Microsoft’s new Start button really isn’t what a lot of people were hoping for.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of the new operating system without being bothered by the Modern UI there are lots of alternative third-party options available. And when I say lots, I mean it. Some cost money, others are free. I’ll list my favorite three and then suggest some others to try if those don’t appeal.
A new study confirms what you might have expected: US customers are getting hosed when it comes to broadband speeds and prices.
The annoying trend holds true in both wired and wireless service. In the Cost of Connectivity 2013 report being released today by the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, researchers note that "in larger US cities, we continue to observe higher prices for slower speeds… In the US for example, the best deal for a 150Mbps home broadband connection from cable and phone companies is $130/month, offered by Verizon FiOS in limited parts of New York City. By contrast, the international cities we surveyed offer comparable speeds for $77 or less per month, with most coming in at about $50/month. When it comes to mobile broadband, the cheapest price for around 2GB of data in the US ($30/month from T-Mobile) is twice as much as what users in London pay ($15/month from T-Mobile). It costs more to purchase 2GB of data in a US city than it does in any of the cities surveyed in Europe." The analysis compares costs across countries by using purchasing power parity exchange rates.
Malwarebytes products have been protecting PCs since 2008, but the company has now decided to broaden its horizons with the release of an Android app.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Mobile still has plenty in common with its PC cousin, of course. The app is effective, free, and very easy to use: just launch it, click Scan and watch as your apps are checked for malicious code (we found this generally takes less than two minutes).
You also get a Privacy option which scans your apps, checking on their privileges, and grouping these by category. It told us that we had six apps which could "access text messages", 8 which were able to "monitor calls", and 6 that could cost us money, for example. Tapping a category displays its associated apps, choosing one of these provides all its details, and you can close a running app -- or uninstall it completely -- with a tap.
The jury is out on stylus input on mobile devices, though many people likely are happy if the option is there, even if it goes unused. Drawing or writing on a screen may not be for everyone, but it has its place in the market, and today Google adds support for your handwriting to both Gmail and Google Docs.
"Whether you’re a student trying to include a foreign phrase in your paper or an international consultant hoping to begin your message with a friendly local greeting, now you’ll be able to use your own handwriting to input words directly into Gmail and Google Docs with your mouse or trackpad", states Google Product Manage Xiangye Xiao.
You will need to enable the option in both cases and Google provides instruction for this simple step -- "to try it out, enable input tools in Gmail or Docs and select the handwriting input (represented by a pencil icon) of the language you want to use".
Java now requires explicit permission to run in the latest version of Firefox, thanks to a patch that rolled out late last week.
Developers at Mozilla, the not-for-profit behind Firefox, are hoping that it will help protect end users from the notoriously unsafe browser plugin – but many have complained that the move has disrupted their businesses (and even the entire nation of Denmark).
Since January, the browser has already blocked out-of-date (and vulnerable) versions of Java. However, in the wake of a particularly nasty SSL-decrypting exploit, Firefox devs made the decision to prevent any version of Java from auto-running.