Beat online obstructions
Webuser|January 22 - February 04, 2020
Don’t let annoying popups and widgets block your access to websites. Robert Irvine reveals the best workarounds for common web hindrances and distractions

Skip image CAPTCHAs

When you’re trying to sign into a website, it’s very irritating to have to prove you’re not a robot by selecting all the squares containing traffic lights/ cars/bridges/trees/street signs and so on. These picture-based CAPTCHAs (which stands for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart’) are an increasingly common security measure, now that artificial intelligence (AI) bots are able to defeat most text-based ones. However, the small and indistinct photos they use can leave you baffled. Is that a vehicle in the distance or a house? Does the corner of a sign count as being an image of one? Ultimately, CAPTCHAs are there to help Google (which sources the photos from Street View) improve its own AI but, for the rest of us, they’re a tiresome obstruction.

One way to bypass these square-selecting challenges is to choose an audio CAPTCHA instead, by clicking the headphones button at the bottom of the CAPTCHA widget. Press Play and type the words you hear – you can keep refreshing if you can’t decipher it – then click Verify.

Alternatively, install the browser extension Buster (bit.ly/buster493), click its button in the widget and it will switch to an audio CAPTCHA and solve it for you. Buster is available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

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