Facebook Also Thinks a Mobile Phone is a Security Blanket

Facebook phone security

 

Soon after my post about Google’s mobile phone fetish… I open Facebook and get a note about how I can improve the security of my account… using a mobile phone, of course.

Do you see what I mean?

It won’t be long and you will be offline if you don’t have a mobile phone to prove your identity. This is the step beyond word verification. Don’t lose your mobile phone or you won’t be able to prove you are who you say you are.

Google, What if I Don’t Have a Mobile Phone?

Dear Google,

You obviously don’t want to hear from me. Just trying to find a way to contact Google is time consuming and mostly a waste of that time. Even when you get email from Google they make it plain that Google is all “no reply” all day, all the time. See below, the return address is:

Google wants you to shut up and leave them alone

 

I only got this far after an hour of looking for some way to contact Google for help. In the past I have left notes for Google on their Twitter account, on their Google Plus accounts (more than one of them) and I have tried over and over and over to find a way to get help from Google about the problem of not having a mobile phone and not wanting to get one just to McHappy Google.

no mobile phone no googleFor at least two months Google Plus has offered me (to the point of nagging each time I open my G+ account) the option to have a custom URL. It is misleading. In fact, if you don’t have a mobile phone you can not have a custom URL. Of course, it does not mention the mobile phone requirement in the eligibility for having a custom URL. It should. In over two months I have tried various suggestions and ideas of my own and from other people and nothing has worked.

As frustrating as this is, the bigger issue is how long before you can’t access your Gmail (Google mail account) without verifying yourself with your mobile phone? I’ve been using Gmail since it began. I will be pretty aggravated the day I have to change all my email to something else just because I don’t want to spend upwards of $50 a month for a mobile phone I never wanted and won’t be using.

A lot of people do have a cell/ mobile phone. Not everyone. Personally, I’m not fond of the phone at all. I keep the landline out of obligation. Now and then family or friends phone. Mostly it’s sales calls so I just let them all go and listen to messages when I see the light blinking. Did you know computers are now leaving phone messages, long ones even! Incredible how marketing and sales are being allowed so much leeway.

Anyway, I am really frustrated with Google over this custom URL which they offer but don’t deliver. I’m concerned about the future even more. The latest thing with two way verification for accounts is all about the mobile phone. What happens if I don’t want a mobile phone? Google won’t answer. I know because I’ve been asking them for months and all I ever get are form emails with no-reply addresses.

Scream for help all you want – no one at Google wants to hear you.

On top of that. I just realized the irony of having set up the two way verification with my landline for my Google account (not the custom URL, just the access to my Google account itself). The irony of now having two way verification on my Google account is that I can only use it from my home computer. If I am out somewhere my account will be inaccessible. How is that for ultimate irony? My Google account is now immobile!!! 

 

Use CAPTCHA and Word Verification to Make Art

6975320_f260Next time you’re stuck trying to read the lines of word verification (CAPTCHA) somewhere think of a way to turn those words into something funny. Add an illustration. Make the word verification part of a cartoon.

I’ve done it. I did cheat a bit. I refreshed a Blogger blog until I felt inspired by the word verification that came up. Then I cut and pasted the letters, added my own text and my own art. I used a simple graphic program, nothing fancy.

It’s not terribly funny, the CAPTCHA art I created. I’ve found much funnier and far more clever art created with word verification on various sites online. But, I did it myself. Sometimes that’s kind of nice in itself.

CAPTCHA Art

The CAPTCHA Protest

word verification

I’m not a big fan of CAPTCHA and/ or word verification. It annoys me frequently. Many times I have chosen not to leave a comment on a site rather than deal with their word verification. It’s like going to visit someone’s house and being attacked by their dog at the door. Makes you feel unwelcome.

However, it’s not just blog comments that require word verification and CAPTCHAs now. If you register for a site, or sign up for an account you get stuck with verifying you are human too. (That’s the original purpose of CAPTCHAs and word verification). Well, as a human, I find I’d like a machine that could read and type in the word verification for me – cause I’m tired of trying to prove I’m a human.

word verificationI doubt anyone is ever glad to see word verification. But, we have come to see it as the standard pest we are forced to deal with. That’s fine when it’s simple, easy enough to read and understand. But, some sites really want you to jump through hoops.

I’ve had some ask me to do math. I dislike math and avoid it when I can.

Another asked me to do word verification, TWICE!.

Some sites will ask you to register – I never (or very rarely) do this. Why register for a site you have only visited once and may never come back to read again? Meanwhile, you give them your email address and any other information they expect from you. They can now take that information and sell it. Registering for one site to leave one comment can leave you getting a lot of spam in your email.

Other sites stick you with word verification and even then they hold your comment back until someone moderates it and actually lets it post. That is a bit much. Pick one! Either moderate your comments or leave on the auto pilot. I’m a bit insulted at your laziness in moderating the comments to your blog. Be assured, I won’t be leaving another comment cause I probably won’t read your site after that.

The latest trend I’ve noticed is the double word. Two words in one word verification. Now, it would be some small help if the two words made sense together. You might be able to use them to figure out what you need to type in. But, they almost never do. They are two random squiggly words instead of just one.

The irony of people relying on word verification is that it stopped working awhile ago. Comment spammers and others who want to post junk on your site have found ways to do so. They can get past word verification. Some use newer technology and others pay real people (they hardly pay them in reality) to type in the CAPTCHAS so the spam computer can leave comment spam. So the whole thing is a lost cause.

  • Petty Revenge for Annoying Word Verification | Word Grrls
    “…that gave me the idea of telling every blogger what their word verification says. If they want to inflict the thing upon me I will give them updates about how it is working.”
  • The Official CAPTCHA Site
  • CAPTCHA – Wikipedia

Alternatives to CAPTCHA

WordPress Plugins for Writers

I got the idea to make a post about WordPress plugins for writers. I use a few which help me and thought I’d share them. But, I found something interesting when I started looking around to see what other writers like to use. Almost every plugin written about as being “for writers” was for SEO in blogging. Almost none of the plugins reviewed as “for writers” were about writing. Does anyone else think that’s kind of a sad reflection on writing?

Here are the plugins I use which help me with actual writing online (not blog promoting – but blog writing).

  • Custom About Author – Add your social media links and a blurb about yourself to the end of each of your posts.
  • Dashboard: Scheduled Posts – This adds a feature to your WordPress desktop where you can store and view posts you have marked as scheduled/ saved as drafts to be finished later. I use this a lot!
  • Sideblog WordPress Plugin – Run a side blog (in your sidebar) for short posts like quotes and notes.
  • Drop Caps – I used this for awhile but didn’t stick with it. Fun for awhile, but not essential. It does work and was simple to set up.

The following are plugins I have not used myself but they sound interesting. Some of them I will download and try.

  • NetBlog – Connect posts and external resources (websites, pdf, doc, data). Use Captions, Footnotes, Bibliography. Netblog is highly customizable.
  • WP-Typography – Improve your web typography with: hyphenation, space control, intelligent character replacement, and CSS hooks.
  • In-Series – I was thinking to use this to connect posts that I didn’t write as a series originally. I use related posts but this might be a way to hand-pick posts and turn them into a series.
  • Graceful Pull-Quotes – Allows you to make pull-quotes without duplicating content. If the plugin is disabled the pull-quotes disappear seamlessly.
  • Table of Contents Creator – Table of Contents Creator automatically generates a highly customizable dynamic site wide table of contents that is always up-to-date.
  • WP Table of Contents – Add a table of contents to your post. This would be lovely for people who write long posts.
  • Add to All – Add content to your header, footer, etc and keep it even if you change blog themes.
  • Front-end Editor – Edit your typos without going back into the Admin screen.
  • FD Word Statistics – Shows word and sentence counts plus a readability analysis of the post currently being edited using three different readability measurements.

Just for fun – not about writing.

  • Quiz – An alternative to word verification, give commenters a question to answer instead.

Dynamic WP: 11 Useful WordPress Plugins for Wrtiers – These may be useful but they are not free. Some of them I didn’t think were useful when I read down the list but I’m adding the link here as a resource.

Comments in Moderation

Why do some bloggers use comment moderation as well as word verification? If you are moderating your comments do so. Why stick people with typing in their email address (as proof they are not bots) then torment them with trying to read word verification. I get the word verification wrong at least one out of three times I type that thing. But, having done so it annoys me to see that my comment is still being held for moderation on top of that. I really think bloggers should use moderation and leave it at that.

Get rid of the excess moderation. Don’t use word (or other types) verification as a security blanket. If you want comments let people comment without having to perform verification you don’t really need. Make commenting in your blog as simple and painless as possible.

If you really don’t want comments just turn them off and save everyone the hassle, including yourself.

Have You Disabled Comments?

This topic (choosing to disable comments on your blog) came up on CMF forums from Ben Barden.

I blogged without allowing comments for a couple of years. I was just writing for myself. The blog was just for me to journal, create backgrounds and play with code. I knew I had some readers, some of them I knew from other places online. Most of them were from a couple of network sites which I wrote for at the time. I finally allowed comments when a couple of friends asked me to. (It was easier for them to jump in with a note rather than go back to the other site and leave a note there).

Disabling comments does not seem a big deal to me. Not because I don’t get flooded with them but because it is kind of nice to be blogging in silence sometimes. Peaceful to just hear your own thoughts and really, totally just write and create to please yourself, no pressure about what some anonymous reader thinks. Even though it is there for others to read you don’t have to trim your thoughts to please them or consider what they will think if you suddenly decide to indulge in a grand pity party for yourself. I could have made it a private blog but posting for anonymous readers (who may or may not read it) suited me in some odd way. Like talking to a stranger I guess.

I think of comments as an outlet for readers. If I post a contact link I don’t think comments are a necessity. Comments have become a trend. There were blogs before there were comments. There are blogs that restrict comments with so much verification that the comments may as well be turned off. I’m only going to jump through one hoop before I decide not to leave a comment. So, in that case, are the comments not turned off just as much as the person who actually does turn them off?

Mad Barking Dogs on Blogs

It’s almost like some people don’t want you to comment on their blog or site at all. When they ask you to register, that’s a big red flag waving at me right away. You want me to hand over my email address before I even know if I like your site? I just wanted to leave a comment, not become your friend. I really don’t want to risk you selling my email address to be spammed. Thanks anyway, I’ll just move along…

The other type of blog that doesn’t really seem to want comments are those which use word verification (which annoys me enough all on it’s own) then they also moderate your comment, keep it on hold to be approved by the blog admin/ owner. I’ve already passed your first test, performed for your twisted amusement, isn’t comment moderation over kill at that point? Kind of like being in a store and having sales people hover and watch you in case you might suddenly steal something. It’s not a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling.

People who use these tactics will justify it but… if you don’t really want my comments just say so. Or turn off comments, save yourself moderating anything. Put up a video of a mad, barking dog so I will know you don’t want me to come back. That makes it easier for both of us.

I was annoyed when I originally wrote this post. That explains the typos I missed and the tone. I still do think I’m right however.

Petty Revenge for Annoying Word Verification

I really don’t like word verification, in case you didn’t already know this about me. So, just this afternoon I have come up with a plan!

I wrote a comment to a blog which uses word verification. At the end of my comment I typed:

Your word verification is scoff. Just letting you know since you have the thing turned on.

It really was scoff, ironically enough. But, that gave me the idea of telling every blogger what their word verification says. If they want to inflict the thing upon me I will give them updates about how it is working. You could even write up a prepared speech of a hundred words and just attach it to every comment you make which forces word verification or any of that annoying useless stuff on you. My comment note above was not nasty or demanding, just an additional note. But I thought of lots of less nice things to say and edited myself down to what I quoted above.

Will you do it too? Next time you are at a blog which makes you do word verification tricks in order to give them a comment, will you let them know their word verification is on?