My New ‘Life’ as a ‘Prisoner’

Many years ago there was a film called “A Prisoner of Zenda.” I never read the book nor saw the film, but for the past month I have been identifying with those being held captive against their will.

I have become a prisoner of re:CAPTCHA. For those not familiar with the term it is a nonsensical invention of someone who had nothing better to do with time. Re-CAPTCHA is a series of objects and icons which must be identified in order to verify if the sender of an article or a forwarder of an e-mail is in fact a human or a robot.

In my aggravation and deep frustration, I would prefer to be a robot. Being a human has not helped me.

Over the past month, everything I have written must pass the re:CAPTCHA test. But nothing has passed. I am labeled a failure in my ability to identify correctly the hundreds of icons that pass before my eyes.

This past week, I spent four hours in an attempt to forward an article to my editor at TOI. 34 times I had to pass the re:CAPTCHA misery counting some 300 panels requiring me to click on as verification.

300 street signs in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Chinese, 300 panels of cars, 300 of buses, 300 of roads, 300 of store-fronts, and God alone knows how many more.

I was getting sea-sick, air-sick, and just plain sick from the parade of icons. I am sure that I had identified them correctly but after so many attempts, the notification appeared on the computer screen that the problem may be due to an automatic network connection, with the request that I should try again later.

And try again I did. 26 more times and all with the same result and the same notices,

It was a battle to free myself from the re:CAPTCHA prison. I don’t look good in prison stripes.

Every item that I attempted to log-in to send to TOI was rejected. I have been infected by the newest dread disease…re:CAPTCHAitis. Highly contagious. Cure yet unknown.

But I solved the dilemma in a long-about way. I typed out my articles and forwarded them to my daughter’s computer. She discovered a way on her computer (but unhappily still not on mine) to re-copy my articles and post them successfully to my editors at the TIMES OF ISRAEL who are very sympathetic to my problem and have offered several suggestions, none of which have yet resolved the annoying problem.

Some time later after she has successfully transmitted my articles, I receive a confirmation from TOI that they had been received and had been published.

Trying to print out a copy of the completed article was no less of a problem. Of a two page item, only the first page could be printed out. Other blank pages followed.

I have since marked my computer as contagious, as victim of a horrible new disease, cure yet unknown.

I do not like to bother my daughter by sending articles to her computer with the request that she attempts to forward them to the editors of TOI. For me, it may very unhappily mean an end to my writing in order to cease being an annoying nuisance to Miriam and Anne, the wonderfully devoted and supportive editors, and to refrain from bothering my daughter to copy and transmit my articles.

I resent being re”CAPTCHA’s prisoner. And I am awaiting a sympathetic reader to send me a file which I may use to remove the prison bars which hold me as an unwilling prisoner. I am praying that some very wise man or woman will succeed in replacing re:CAPTCHA with a word identify solution.

The words of the prayer “U’matir asurim,” and liberate the imprisoned, inspire me.

Meanwhile, I wish all who receive this article a comfortable and meaningful fast on Tisha B’Av. And you will be happily welcomed to break down the walls of the prison which has re:CAPTCH’d me.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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