JanRain and I have been flirting for a while, said Peat Bakke in an email. They have a great team here in Portland, and their products lend themselves to the kind of integration and custom development work that I enjoy.
“JanRain and I have been flirting for a while,” said Peat in an email. “They have a great team here in Portland, and their products lend themselves to the kind of integration and custom development work that I enjoy. We’ve worked together on some big projects, the business is growing, and the timing was right… so on July 1st we sealed the deal, and I’m heading up the professional services group.” Read More
[Editor: Let me preface this by saying that I know, full well, that Kveton hates it when I do this. But I think it’s newsworthy. And I thought I should let you know. For that, I’m willing to incur his wrath.]
But it’s likely that far more of you know Kveton for one thing: bacon. Or perhaps more appropriately Bac’n.
And now, what began as side project—albeit a passionate one—has drawn Kveton into the world of consulting as a full-time gig.
But it’s more than just his passion for that wonderful magical meat animal. It’s truly a desire to help organizations understand how to better use technology and community to achieve business worthy ends—regardless of their particular focus.
It’s really hard to explain but selling bacon is honestly one of the most interesting/fun things I’ve ever done. Its not just technology-for-the-sake-of-technology. Jason, Michael and I created something out of nothing using off-the-shelf tools to make a solution that delivers real things to real people. And we did it all in less than a month.
Long story short, Kveton is taking the opportunity to do something he loves—and to make it a viable business. And given that that is something with which many of us struggle, I personally couldn’t be happier seeing him take this chance.
I know Portland will gain from this move. And I’m already seeing some local startups beginning to take advantage of his talent and guidance.
Ever tried to do something on a site that uses CAPTCHA? You know, the Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart?
Oh. Well, how about the technology designed to prevent bots from submitting forms that requires us to enter a “human readable” element before submitting?
Um. Okay. The squiggly letters? You know the squiggly letters? The ones you can never read? The ones that force you through three or four attempts at submitting a form? The ones that make you wonder if you are, in fact, a bot?
Moni Naor was the first person to theorize a list of ways to verify that a request comes from a human and not a bot. Primitive CAPTCHAs seem to have been developed in 1997 by Andrei Broder, Martin Abadi, Krishna Bharat, and Mark Lillibridge to prevent bots from adding URLs to their search engine. In order to make the images resistant to OCR (Optical Character Recognition), the team simulated situations that scanner manuals claimed resulted in bad OCR. In 2000, Luis von Ahn and Manuel Blum coined the term ‘CAPTCHA’, improved and publicized the notion, which included any program that can distinguish humans from computers. They invented multiple examples of CAPTCHAs, including the first CAPTCHAs to be widely used, which were those adopted by Yahoo!.
But as optical character recognition has improved and bots have become smarter, it’s been going downhill—faster and faster—ever since.
They latest iteration of CAPTCHAs and reCAPTCHAs have taken a variety of forms: more and more obscured text, increasingly wiggly text with multiple “words,” unintelligible audio, increasingly complicated math problems… but none of them seems to get to the crux of the issue: allowing an average human to do what they came to do.
Enter Portland-based Vidoop and their image grid technology.
To date, Vidoop’s recognizable image grid technology has been used to obfuscate passwords for an OpenID login, enabling users to use OpenID without having to remember other credentials.
But what dawned on the folks at Vidoop is that the image grid also made a pretty darn simple CAPTCHA device. What’s more, it was actually intelligible to a human.
Introducing VidoopCAPTCHA, a CAPTCHA that stops the craptastic slide of increasingly horrible CAPTCHAs by taking the concept in an entirely new direction.
The image grid password concept allowed users to select a few favorite things that they were to remember instead of a password—like rainbows, unicorns, and teddy bears. Then when they logged into a site using their myVidoop name, they simply selected the letters from those images as their password.
VidoopCAPTCHA takes the same tact, telling users to look for specific images and then asking them to type in the letters from those images. Simple, easy to use, and just as effective protection as the image grid for passwords.
And like the previous implementations of image grid technology, VidoopCAPTCHA has the potential to allow users of the service to insert their own images into the grid. Which, in most cases, results in an advertisement.
There’s a business model here, too. Vidoop says that if this system catches on, site owners will be able to sell spots in their image boxes to advertisers. The concentration required in order to identify these images would be a huge gift to advertisers placed there. There’s something a little troubling about that prospect, but the company says that in a survey so large they believe it’s nationally representative and most other people don’t mind.
Verdict: VidoopCAPTCHA is humane CAPTCHA
As a user, I found the image grid approach much easier to use than the prevailing text-based concepts. Were I a current CAPTCHA user, I’d implement VidoopCAPTCHA, today.
But is VidoopCAPTCHA enough to motivate folks to implement a CAPTCHA solution? I don’t know about that. But I do know that if you’re interested in deploying CAPTCHA, the imagery is far more legible and usable than the current squiggly text—at least to my eye. (And I’d say that even if Vidoop weren’t a Portland company.)
And I also know that if you’re a current CAPTCHA user, it would be well worth your time to take a look at VidoopCAPTCHA. Your users will thank you for it. Or at the very least, be able to communicate with you without screaming expletives at the screen.
For more information or to test drive the product, visit VidoopCAPTCHA.
“Our objective is to give our customers choice and make their Web experience easier, while helping them safeguard their privacy,” said George Scriban, senior product manager, Health Solutions Group, Microsoft. “We’re happy to be working with Vidoop to give HealthVault users the option of using their log-in and authentication solutions with their HealthVault account.”
Not only is this good news for Vidoop, it’s good news for OpenID. What’s more (and near and dear to our hearts), it’s good for Portland, as Vidoop joins Portland’s other OpenID juggernaut, JanRain, as an option for HealthVault logins.
Microsoft HealthVault allows individuals to store health information from many sources in one location, so that it’s always organized and available. HealthVault is working with doctors, hospitals, employers, pharmacies, insurance providers and manufacturers of health devices—blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors and more—to make it easy for consumers to add information electronically to HealthVault records.
Vidoop’s ImageShield—which allows users to login based on information contained in a series of images—will ensure that individuals have secure access to these records without the issues generally associated with password-based security.
“The weakest point in Internet security is the front line – where users log-in – but with strong authentication the front line can become the strongest point,” said Scott Kveton, Vidoop’s vice president of Engineering.
But just how much Portland-associated influence will there be on the show? Well, we’re lucky to have some of the heavy hitters from the world of OpenID—and Portland—in attendance. Brian Kissel of Portland-based JanRain, Scott Kveton of Portland-based Vidoop, Chris “@factoryjoe” Messina of Vidoop (who doesn’t live in Portland, but thankfully, travels up here on a regular basis), and David Recordon of Six Apart (who is originally from Portland). And, of course, Marshall Kirkpatrick, who heads up ReadWriteWeb content development, is a Portland resident, as well.
That’s a lot of Portland. And a lot of OpenID knowledge.
Today, the group will be discussing ideas for increasing adoption of OpenID, plans for the OpenID Foundation, and opinions on Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect. If there’s a topic you’d like to propose, visit the RWW Live post to offer it as potential discussion point or throw it out in the chat room during the call.
Speaking of chat rooms… it would probably be wise to tell you how to participate:
The show will be broadcast LIVE at 3.30pm PST Monday (6.30pm EST). We invite you to tune in and interact with us via the chat, by clicking here. You can also use the Calliflower Facebook app to listen and participate.
Can’t make the show? No worries. RWW Live is a podcast, after all. You can always listen to the discussion by heading over to ReadWriteTalk, the archive of all ReadWriteWeb podcasts.
So whether you’re saying “Open wha…?”, a staunch OpenID proponent, or an OpenID opponent, it would be well worth your time to swing by the podcast and hear these knowledgeable folks talk about the future of managing your identity on the Web.
And here’s our discussion of the potential future for 2009:
Or, if you just want to listen to the whole shooting match, have at it:
Thanks, yet again, to Cami and the good Doctor for allowing me to appear on the show. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Strange Love Live is the best podcast in the Portland. And one prediction for 2009 that’s sure to come true? You ain’t seen nothing yet as far as Strange Love Live goes.
And hopefully, we’ll see the same thing for any number of people in our area. I’m really interested to see what Portland and the Silicon Forest will do in 2009.
And of course, I’m truly looking forward to watching—and covering—that of which you’re capable of in 2009.
Where did all of these options come from all of the sudden? Well…
It’s been quite the month for the world of distributed social networking. Both Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect – two services designed to help user manage a single profile across multiple sites – launched on the same day. Then, MySpace followed in close succession with their MySpaceID offering, another distributed social option built on the Open Stack. In a matter of days, the distributed social space went from nascent to completely confusing.
JanRain is hoping to make it a little less confusing, for both developers and users. And if they have to work with big-time music types—like 50 Cent, Fergie, and Guns n’ Roses—to get that done, so be it.