Few would dispute the great usefulness of Google search. And most of us are willing to put up with the numerous ads that come along with the content. They are usually a small price to pay for the convenience and completeness of the information we seek. And we rarely have a choice of ads + free content vs. paid content. Sometimes the ads are distracting and/or invasive (especially ones with audio, video, or animation). But perhaps the worst ads are the ones that don’t look like ads at all. For example, the one in the graphic above, which is formatted to look just like the usable content itself. This strains the limits of ethics; at least in paper periodicals the advertisements are either clearly advertisements (as is easily seen by their formats) or are clearly labeled “ADVERTISEMENT”. Unless you truly need the content you found, we urge you to peruse other, more ethical, websites for your information needs. (It was interesting that we found this on a website dealing with CAPTCHA’s, which is another phenomenon of dubious merits.)
We recently suffered through a spate of websites at which we wanted to leave our valid queries in order to be contacted and provided additional information. In fact, we sat here with money in hand, ready to spend it if the goods or services were the ones we sought. Instead, we were blocked, or at least delayed, from proceeding further by the need to squint at some weird-looking letters or numbers (or solve some dopey riddle). For the uninitiated, these inconveniences are called CAPTCHA’s, something that was invented to prevent robotic spammers from filling our email InBoxes or Contact Us databases with unwanted messages (mostly ads). Aha, we thought: an opportunity to collect some of the worst of these and post them for the enlightenment or entertainment of visitors to our website. Alas, this was truly old news, as already in 2008 there was someone chronicling the worst of the worse. Fast forward to 2014, when Google has put an end to this with its No-CAPTCHA aproach, which uses information it already has about a user’s behavior to separate the valid visitors from the spammers. For us, the bottom line is that if you are presented with a CAPTCHA it is a good bet that the site was developed a long time ago, and you may well want to suspect the currency of the rest of its information.
What were they thinking??!! There is lots of intelligence behind the design of drones, lots of intelligence in the information that can be collected via their cameras, and lots of intelligent actions that can be taken using this information. But apparently NO intelligence on the part of the voyeurs piloting the five drones that resulted in a 20-minute delay of firefighting on July 17. The FAA and other authorities who have been accused of dragging their feet in approving the use of drones now have strong arguments for their conservative views.
Technology Bloopers is headed by a lifelong advocate for applying technology to enable us to do things never before possible, to make our lives easier and more comfortable, etc. But we also are advocates for using common sense and considering all possible aspects of applying that technology, be it Elon Musk’s electric cars or space activities, Uber, or other recent marvels. Practical considerations such as human safety or impacts on ecosystems or society are likely to delay the progress of these marvels. So we should be careful to make reasonable forecasts as to when they are likely to achieve widespread adoption.