January 18, 2013

Seriously, What The Hell Is Up With The Captcha??


Special thanks to DT reader and dev wiz Chris who got all CSI:PNG with his suggestion to check gamma conversion settings, and BAM.

I swear, I can't figure out what's going on, but damn, those captcha images are dark.

What is up with that?

If you've tried or wanted to leave a comment on Daddy Types recently--you might have given up when you saw an illegible captcha text that you're like, "hah, I'm supposed to read that? Is this a joke?"

The worst part, besides annoying many of you, is calling my hosting company, and explaining the problem, and having the tech support guy go, "What, does that look dark to you?" Like I shouldn't be driving at night now or something? IS MY CAPTCHA ONLY ILLEGIBLE TO GUYS OVER 35? SHOULD I PROVIDE AN ALTERNATE VERIFICATION METHOD SUCH AS, WHAT, IDENTIFYING X-FILES CHARACTERS? IS MY ALLCAPS YET ANOTHER SIGN OF OLD MAN PROBLEMS?

Here's the deal, and this is blognerd mayhem right now, and as soon as it's fixed, I'll delete this post, so everyone except the Javascript/Movable Type/Image::Magick experts out there can just ignore it.

On MT4.34 [which, I know, topic for later discussion], the captcha image is generated by a javascript somewhere using a folderful of images, one for each letter/number, and like five loopy backgrounds.

I can't figure out where that javascript is, or what it's doing, but a few weeks ago, the images it spit out became significantly darker than they used to be. Around the same time, I had some unrelated problems with images which my hosting company identified as related to configuration errors on their update to the Image::Magick module on my server.

Image::Magick is commonly mentioned as a source of problems in MT captcha errors, but I can't find any examples of too-dark images; usually it's broken or non-existent ones. Still.

I went into my static image folder and tried manually adjusting the background images. Then I made them completely white. As captchas, these should be increasingly useless at preventing comment spam, but at least they'd be legible again. I thought.

But WTF, the javascript never generates a captcha using these altered background images. Ever. It's like it has a massive cache of already-generated captchas stashed somewhere that it's drawing from. I'd set a bot to reload my pages a million times if it'd work [after pre-apologizing to the DT advertisers for jacking their pageview stats], but seriously, people.

So that's the deal. The captcha system is running amok, darkening itself beyond my control, and seeking to shut down all your meaningful and insightful comments. And I am apparently powerless to stop it. If you have any suggestions, please email me. Thanks.

And first, and last, and most of all, thanks and apologies to all of you who have emailed your concern, your tips, and your comments in the mean time.


They've been dark for awhile. I have 20/20 vision and cannot for the life of me read the capcthas. I had to refresh about 5 times until I got one I could just barely discern.

Now you know what I meant when I mentioned this back during the Nap Nanny recall! :)
Sometimes dragging it out to the margin to get a different light angle helped, but not usually. It's always just one character I can't read, too, which for some reason is extra frustrating! :)
This is my fourth try.

HA! I've outsmarted you, Captcha! I had misplaced my trusty MacGyver paperclip-that-turns-into-Russian-technology-Captcha-decoder, so I copied the Captcha image to good ol' ancient Microsoft Paint and used the paint can (fill) with a light color (in this case yellow) to reveal the hidden letters. Take that you anti-spam device!

I have nothing meaningful or insightful to add other than: the captcha at the bottom of this page is the easiest to decipher in months so I have to use it.

Could you be more specific about how you fixed it?

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