Friday, April 30, 2010

What's Up With Visual ID?

Have you ever forgotten your password and been sent to the “Visual ID?”

Last week, for some reason, I was locked out of my Google Accounts. After a number of attempts and under pressure, I decided to go for the password reset.
Not the immediate solution I was hoping for, the reset sent me to the dreaded VID, a screening tool designed to tell a human from a machine to prevent malicious spamming.

I have trouble identifying the color of a car, and certainly could not accurately pick the perpetrator out in a lineup, so you can imagine the degree of difficulty encountered when asked to decipher letters and numbers twisted and curly-cued around each other.

Having experienced this exercise in futility before, I clicked on the “wheelchair” button. The wheelchair symbol is supposed to allow you to hear the ID audibly, if you cannot see it --- that makes perfectly good sense, right?

The audible ID was as incoherent as the VID. It sounded like an alien transmission from another frequency and I could not make this out any better than the visual.

Luckily, at the moment of near abandonment, a colleague with a good set of eyes arrived at my office door. I pulled him into this unfortunate mess of unintelligible sights and sounds. He said he had no idea what the audio was saying, and reluctantly took a shot at the letters, announcing in advance that he never gets these things right.

But, he got it right, and bingo, I was back in business.

I just want to know one thing…should it be this hard to prove that we are human?