Using Captcha on epetitions.direct.gov.uk

Recently, I complained to the Government’s epetitions about the use of Captcha and whether it was necessary especially when we are providing our home address. I brought this up as I am aware that Captcha are a bugger to use for people who are blind/deafblind/usher. So I fired off a short but concise email – hoping that it will makes some difference.

Here’s their reply:

Thank you for your message regarding e-petitions.  I am sorry that you are experiencing problems with the site, and for the slight delay in responding to your e-mail.

We have recently introduced new anti-spam ‘captcha’ software, following the previous software used on the site becoming more difficult to read.   Any ‘captcha’ software is necessarily somewhat difficult to read, as it is intended to reduce the risk of automated systems being able to fraudulently add signatures to the site; however, we do monitor the software and will consider alternative options if this too becomes too difficult for users to read or listen to.

If you are continuing to experience problems with the captcha software, the following solutions may help.

  • If the text box is not visible, you may find that forcibly refreshing the page (Ctrl+F5 on Internet Explorer, for example) will ensure it displays.  Alternatively, if you use advert blocking software in your browser, you may find that disabling this will allow the text to be visible.   Our technical team are looking into reports that some browsers are not displayed the captcha, however this does not appear to be happening routinely with any specific browser.
  • If you are unable to read the text, links below the text box allow for alternative combinations to be displayed.  In many cases, errors occur when users may misread the letters L, I and the number 1, or the number 0 and the letter O for example.
  • If the text is too obscured for you to read, an audio version is also available.
  • If none of these options work, you can respond to this e-mail with details of your name, address and a link of the petition you wish to sign, and I will be able to manually add your signature.

Finally, in some cases, individuals have contacted us, believing to be having problems with the captcha software where in fact they had already signed the e-petition and the error messages normally reflect this.   These cases are especially frequent for e-petitions backed by large organisations who send repeated e-mails to members/customers/supporters to sign their e-petition.   If you are attempting to sign an e-petition as a result of an e-mail sent to you in this way, you may wish to check your previously received e-mails from the e-Petitions website to check you have not already signed the e-petition.

I hope this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Ben Sneddon
Assistant Private Secretary- Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

Anytime, anyone….except you(!)

I am currently looking to reduce my telecomms bills at the moment – ever since I’ve been made redundant back at the start of September. Since then, my monthly phone/broadband bills have increased somewhat between 60 to 80%. It is all because of the 08xx numbers linked to various Government services, notably the JobCentre and Tax Credits office – plus other ad-hoc calls linked to my current predicament.

In short, I got to pay if I want information about jobs. There are free phones provided down at the JobCentres but they are no good Continue reading

Gold-plated service


At the behest of Alison Byran of G.O.D.

Apologies for the lengthy break away from blogging. Things have been mad at work, plus an impending new addition to our new family, plus sustained efforts throughout Autumn to renovate the 2nd half of our house in readiness for the new addition. Oh well, life happened!

I started my Xmas holidays early – on 16th Dec – hee hee, Xmas glee! Whilst out Xmas shopping, I had an impromtu shear – haircut – so, as per usual, my hearing aid are taken off. Typically, I am always asked to take them off by the barber and, as per usual, the barber still try to strike up a conversation as if I am a hearing person. Continue reading

Tripetalk

This is going to be a short vent.

This afternoon, after a long period of absent, I find myself calling Tax Credit Office via Typetalk on my minicom (picture me using my thumb to wipe the dust off the single line screen)

After a 10 mins wait in the telephone queue, a Tax Credits advisor popped up and introduced herself as Steph and then suddenly, we have a “change of operator”. 1 minute has passed, the new TT operator explained to me that Steph is not there. I told the new op, in no uncertain terms, that is because you decided to change operators in the middle of a effing call. TT operator apologised profusely but, by then, Tax Credits hung me up. At this stage, my old frustrations surrounding this decades-old cumbersome method of communications have now resurfaced and the next green-lettered sentence burbling across my screen: “Would you like to re-dial?”. Why are they still saying that? I have complained to them about this 7 years ago and they still haven’t “got it”. If you are going to make a phone call, you are going to make a phone call to reach someone on the other end. Are Typetalk operators thick or what?

My next response is “No – I just fancied waiting in the queue and having a change of operators in middle of phone call and only to get hung up upon, through no fault of my own! Guess what – I am paying for this pleasure…bibisksksks”

Needless to say, this phone call will appear on my phone bill and I did not get the desire results.

DeafBlind Communicator

Extracted from Pattaya People (Thailand newspaper)

An exciting new portable device for deaf-blind people allows them to have face-to-face conversations, make phone calls using a text relay service and communicate by SMS.

The Deaf-Blind Communicator (DBC) consists of a Braille note-taker linked by Bluetooth to a mobile phone. Using the device, a deaf-blind person can have real time conversations in pubs and shops, with sighted friends or when conducting confidential meetings – for example with a doctor or solicitor. Continue reading

New BSL app for iPhone

This landed in my inbox this morning.

British Sign Language Trainer

Screenshot

Screenshot

The marketing blurb goes like this:

Did you ever want to learn sign language?

Here is your chance to learn how to spell words in sign language. All 26 signs corresponding to the characters of the alphabet are displayed on the screen as buttons.

The buttons are in alphabetical order, making it easy to learn each sign. You’ll be able to spell anything that you like in a short amount of time.

If you are unsure if you are spelling the correct sign, just press the button to display the corresponding character.

Once you are proficient with the alphabet and you would like to continue training, give your iPhone to a friend, spell a word or sentence in sign language and have them translate what you just spelled.

Have fun mastering the british sign language alphabet

If you have used it or going to use it, it would be great if you could leave a feedback. I am not an iPhone user. I am going for N97 for my next phone but felt this new product is newsworthy although the title of the app is misleading. You don’t actually learn BSL as the app only contains the fingerspelt alphabet. Learning the alphabet doesn’t means you will acquire a language however this will be useful for novice signers enrolled on Level 1 BSL course.

Just a boring and geeky blog announcement

This blogsite is now webcam and gravatar-enabled.

I am using Riffly plug-in for WordPress. I edited the php code to omit the ‘inappropriate’ option to make an audio comment (no brainer, really!).

You can create your own gravatar profile, via the website. Your mug/artwork/pixelwork will appears next to your comment. I’ve positioned it so that the “speech” bubble will orginate from your gravatar, which is quite ironic really. Hee hee. But there is always the webcam to fall back onto.

Finally, with DayLight Saving coming up, I have read that WordPress don’t like them. Here is the php code that will help the software to cope with the server’s time-shift and enter into the winter mode.

Feel free to make use of the new features and report back if you got any problems. Many thanks!!

Animoto.com

This is a brilliant website, which can source photos from your Flickr/Picasa/Photobucket etc website or upload it. It will also look at music files on your laptop or you can choose one of theirs. The whole process took me 5 minutes and this is the result. A great way to jazz up and personalise your photo collections……..

N.B. If the embedded video doesn’t load, click on this link.