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reCAPTCHA: digitizing the printed word, one spam filter at a time   7 comments

bigstock-Abstract-Background-with-words-26287847In 2009, Google went from having around 20,000 employees, to having millions of people all over the world working for them. Well… sort of.

You might already be familiar with what is pictured below. If not, let me explain to you a little bit about something that I was recently informed about –this magical thing called “reCAPTCHA”.

recaptcha In the year 2000, I was worried about passing the 4th grade. I was anticipating that all the computers in the world were going to explode due to Y2K. I was hoping that I could fend for my family and not die of Dysentery on The Oregon Trail. Needless to say, life was rough.

But Yahoo!—and hundreds of other web companies, for that matter—were dealing with a much larger epidemic than Dysentery—spam. No, not that gross, canned mystery meat, and definitely not George Michael’s Wham! This kind of spam is something (debatably) worse than both… combined!

We’ve all encountered spam in our email inboxes, but now, thanks to Luis von Ahn, we also have all run into what is stopping most of it.

Luis von Ahn grew up in Guatemala and worked in his family’s candy shop as a kid. Later on in his life, along with his college advisor, he was hired by Yahoo! to create a program that could tell the difference between a human and a form bot. They came up with “CAPTCHA”, which—and I’m serious here—stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”

While the name isn’t exactly the work of genius, these brilliant guys created a challenge-response test that could be predominantly passed by humans to block those evil form bots and eliminate as much spam as possible. These computer-generated, squiggly words are made so humans can read and submit them, but that computers cannot.

After becoming extraordinarily successful off this creation, Mr. von Ahn still found a weakness in his own program. The flaw? The 10 annoying seconds wasted while someone types in a CAPTCHA every time they come across one. After turning down a personal offer from Bill Gates to work for Microsoft and winning the MacArthur Fellowship Award in 2006, von Ahn re-created CAPTCHA and titled it…erm… reCAPTCHA! Luis von Ahn believed this new idea would be good for humanity, and as far as some other types of crowdsourcing go, I agree.

In 2009, Google bought reCAPTCHA and released it upon the masses. Now, what reCAPTCHA does is take the words we type in and use them to digitize old books and newspapers. These books and newspapers are scanned and turned into text-images by using “Optical Character Recognition” (OCR). The problem remains that computers still cannot read text as well as humans. A simple word like “of” could be interpreted as “at,” since old books and newspapers may have words that are damaged or hard to scan.

Here is where the superpower of humans comes in! We can read the word “of” and correctly submit “of,” instead of “at”, along with a computer-generated CAPTCHA word. So a reCAPTCHA image is combined with a CAPTCHA word, and placed at the login of something like an email. If we get the CAPTCHA word correct, we are in-there-like-swimwear. Even if we get the reCAPTCHA wrong and cannot decipher it ourselves, but get the CAPTCHA, we are still allowed access. The reCAPTCHA word will be tested by many other humans to increase the likelihood of it being deciphered correctly.

Using the aforementioned example of the word “of” being read as “at”, if people keep typing “of”, the word “of” will digitally replace the word that the OCR program recommended. After some time, millions of people are deciphering these scanned reCAPTCHA words and creating digitized versions of old New York Times newspapers and classic books for Google!

In months, with the power of reCAPTCHA and humans’ ability to read damaged words, 20 years’ worth of material is digitized and transcribed thanks to… well… you…me… Alan Rosenberg… maybe Luis von Ahn and Bill Gates… your mom? Everyone! In time, thanks to Luis von Ahn and his team, we will all be a part of digitizing millions of old texts to be distributed online. Now, where are our paychecks, Google?

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Written by Dylan on March 14th, 2013

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TurnKey Internet Receives SSAE 16 Type 2 Certification!   25 comments

Overheard at TurnKey Internet, straight from the CEO: “Attaining the SSAE 16 Type 2 certification was a significant goal and milestone for us. We pride ourselves on our unparalleled reliability, quality of service, and—most importantly—customer satisfaction. This certification not only proves that we are excelling in those areas, but also assures our new and existing clients that they are receiving the best possible service.”

You heard right, ladies and gentlemen! We are proud to add SSAE 16 Type 2 to the list of certifications that our green data center in Upstate NY has attained. “What’s that,” you ask? SSAE (or The Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements) No. 16 (SSAE 16) Type 2 certification is an internationally recognized compliance certification, that was created by the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in April of last year (2012). It replaced the Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS 70) to better supplement international auditing standard ISAE 3402.

After a thorough examination, conducted by SOC audit specialists The Moore Group CPA, LLC., our facility was deemed compliant with the regulations required to attain SSAE 16 Type 2 certification. This audit investigates several core areas: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. It verifies that TurnKey Internet is of the utmost security, integrity, and reliability. It confirms that we have procedures and safety precautions of the utmost efficiency in place to ensure the security of our facility and our clients’ data within.

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited. We couldn’t wait to share the good news! You can read the full press release here >

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Out with the Black Friday, in with the Cyber Monday!   no comments

Cyber Monday Digital ShoppingAfter the overwhelmingly positive reaction we received for our Black Friday Special, we have decided to keep the wheels in motion. Today, we’re announcing our Cyber Monday promotion! We’re basically taking our Black Friday Special and changing its clothes, so that you can all enjoy a little extra time with the sale that has everyone (us, included!) buzzing with enthusiasm.

If you happened to miss the sale, don’t you worry! Here’s a little overview:

With the coupon code CM2012, you can get 75% off of  pretty much anything we sell – servers, reseller packages, SEO hosing; if we sell it and you want it, it’s probably 75% off. And guess what? It’s locked-in at 75% off. For life.

Here’s the really exciting part, though. For Black Friday ONLY, we packed in even more savings to the Early Bird Special I told you about earlier this week. Initially, the 75% was only valid with the selection of an annual payment plan, and for Black Friday we decided to throw the restrictions out the window and discount monthly and semi-annual plans as well. Cyber Monday is every bit as exciting for us–if not more, because we heart the internet–so we’re going to put the all-encompassing 75% off into affect again.

Lastly, if you hadn’t noticed, we like to go out with a bang here. Did you really expect us to run a special without giving it a little extra bit of awesomeness? Surely not. As a gift, to thank you for your business and for being so great, we would like to offer your fourth month absolutely free. That’s right, if you participate in our Cyber Monday sale, you will receive the fourth month of your service for exactly $0.00.

Jump over to our Cyber Monday page and save yourself some money! Happy–online–shopping!

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Written by Emily on November 25th, 2012

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TurnKey Internet welcomes docSTAR to Latham data center   no comments

At TurnKey Internet, there is only one thing we like to do more than make new friends, and that one thing is tell everyone about it. That being said, we are so excited to announce that docSTAR, a document management software company and subsidiary of Astria Solutions Group, LLC., is moving into our Latham, NY data center!

docSTAR is located in Schenectady, NY, so we’re basically neighbors. This is one of the most noteworthy aspects of docSTAR’s move into the TurnKey  cloud. There has been quite a stir around here in regards to teaming-up with a fellow Capital Region small business, and we welcome them wholeheartedly to our facility. We like to think of it as a little ray of sunshine on the heels of Hurricane Sandy!

Greg Laird, docSTAR’s VP of Product Development commented, “The cloud powers our software and our business. Our growth required a bigger, faster, stronger cloud in order to continue to provide the highest level of service. The TurnKey data center exceeds all of our requirements, so our customers can continue to grow.”

We’re more than happy to help! To read the full press release, you can check it out here.

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Hurricane Sandy – After Report   1 comment

Posted at Oct 30, 2012 @ 12:12pm New York Datacenter,News

While Hurricane Sandy has been downgraded to a severe storm that still is impacting parts of the Northeast U.S. with wind, rain, and flooding, the initial, direct storm impact on our regional datacenter in New York has passed without any impact to service or performance.

Our facility remained running–fully on utility power–at all times, with no disruptions to service. All fiber optic network connections, including our dark fiber build, remain at 100% operational status, and all backup network and power systems also remain at 100% operational status. All Internet carrier connection points report full operational status, with no outages reported in the last 24 hours. At this time we have completed our Emergency Preparedness Stage II Plan, which has been in effect since Sunday – returning to normal operational status as of 12:01 PM EST today, October 30th, 2012.

We are happy to report that all employees and their families are safe and sound, and have either reported for duty or checked in to confirm their status. Many clients who have contacted us from within the impacted regions also report they are safe – which we are very grateful to hear.

Some severe flooding in parts of New York continue at this time. For instance, you may see on the news that the stock exchange has been closed for a 2nd day. Major power outages and other effects of Hurricane Sandy are impacting millions of people,but our New York datacenter facility remains over 2,000 feet above sea level and far removed from the impacted flood zone. We do not anticipate any issues related to the flooding in these regions of New York, but will continue to monitor the situation.

Thank you all for the well wishes that were sent to TurnKey Internet and our staff in the last 24 hours. Our thoughts and best wishes are with those who remain in the regions experiencing the after effects of Hurricane Sandy, and we hope for a speedy recovery for all who have been impacted.

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Written by Adam on October 30th, 2012

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Let’s Make a Deal!   2 comments

Let's Make a Deal!Hey, everyone! My name is Emily Wegener, and I’m the new girl on the block here at TurnKey Internet. As TurnKey’s Interactive Marketing Specialist, I could not have hoped for a more fun and exciting time to join these amazing people in the cloud. Let me tell you why.

As you Facebookers and Tweeters and Press-Release-Readers out there have probably already heard, we just began an awesome promotion. For those of you who haven’t, we are calling it “Let’s Make a Deal!”, based on the concept of the popular game show. Have you played yet? If not, you’re missing out!

Here’s the scoop: If you head to www.turnkeyinternet.net/deal, you’ll arrive at the “Let’s Make a Deal” page where the fun begins. You can get there from a bunch of other places as well, like our homepage and social media sites. As long as you get there, we don’t mind how. You decide; it’s your world. Anyway, on the deal page, you’re met with three briefcases and a human. No, that is not an Olsen twin.

This is where the game gets interesting. We’re offering HUGE product offers and discounts on absolutely everything. We picked out the deals that we thought were the coolest, and placed them neatly in the aforementioned briefcases for your consideration. Disagree with us? Think you can come up with a better, more personalized and relevant deal? TELL US. Our spin on this game show not only allows you to do that, but it encourages you to! You’ll see an option to talk to our “Deal-maker”, where you can negotiate your own special deal. It’s fun! Try it!

Lastly, most importantly, and most wonderfully, ”Let’s Make a Deal!” is being served up piping-hot with a side of “Deal of a Lifetime”. As the promotion progresses, TurnKey Internet will be randomly selecting winners from the participant pool, and awarding them a lifetime of free service! That’s right, a LIFETIME. AKA: The rest of your life. AKA: Forever and ever. I’m sure you understand. Didn’t find your perfect deal? Doubtful, but no biggie. We’re just happy you came to play! The giveaway is no-purchase-necessary, and if you would like to enter anyway, simply mail a letter of intent to us at our headquarters in Latham, NY. You can find the mailing address here.

Here’s the thing, guys: we really, really appreciate you. We like that you choose to use our services, and read our blog, and hang out with us in all of the other awesome ways that you do. That being said, we also like to give back to you. We want you to save money, and we want you to have fun doing it. This is our attempt at helping you kill those two birds with one stone. I mean, everyone offers discount codes and coupons, right? But how often can you make your own?

So, without further ado, I know I speak on behalf of all of my new TurnKey pals when I say – Have fun, and thanks a million. No, thanks a zillion.

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Written by Emily on September 17th, 2012

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SOPA and PIPA: Just Say No   no comments

Posted at Jan 16, 2012 @ 6:41pm News

If you check out basically any technology-related website this week (and many non tech-related sites as well) you will find information relating to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property, Protect IP Act (PIPA).  This proposed legislation (which has, for now, been avoided) would not only halt online piracy, it would take away a whole lot of online freedom too.

Sure, I believe that protecting intellectual property is important. Many artists, entertainers and the companies that employ them don’t want consumers getting their products for free. This is understandable. We all need to make a living. But we can’t protect intellectual property on the Internet by universally censoring content. Before I go any further, let’s explore what PIPA and SOPA really are.

PIPA

PIPA was first introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, and Chuck Grassley. PIPA would give the government and U.S. corporations the right to seek legal action with any website they determine has allowed copyright infringement. This extremely loosely-defined legislation could potentially:

– Force Internet providers to block websites on their networks.
– Force advertisers on “infringing” websites to pull their ads.
– Seek legal action by suing blogs, search engines, directories or any other site on the internet.

Goodbye, User-Generated Content

PIPA would create a perilous online climate for any website. It would encourage harsh restrictions on user content, effectively censoring any type of user-generated participation. This means user-generated writing, videos, audio files… ANYTHING. The fact is, user-generated content is a huge part of what makes the Internet so rich. If PIPA passes, we will lose our free forum. This will have wide-reaching implications for social behaviors and social control.

SOPA

SOPA would work in conjunction with PIPA. It would allow:

– The U.S. Attorney General to seek court orders to force search engines, DNS providers, advertisers and more to sever contact with any “offending” websites or content.
– Private corporations to create their own hit lists of websites they feel are breaking their copyright policies, for ANY REASON. Read: legal mafia. The companies would be able to contact a website’s provider directly to sever service within five days.

Sayonara, Innovation

Not only would these bills severely restrict user-generated content, they would stifle innovation. Developers aren’t going to experiment with new ways of distributing content if they are constantly under threat of take-down. Think about the big sites we all use today: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, DropBox… none of these would have made it a week under PIPA and SOPA.

Ridiculous Consequences

Imagine this scenario: a child makes a video of herself singing a popular song and posts it to the Internet. That child could be responsible for the blackout of YouTube. That child and her family could face legal action. They could face fines in the millions! Is this the kind of Internet we want?

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Voxwire Web Conferencing Goes Gold   1 comment

Posted at Feb 2, 2011 @ 11:10am News

With our recent release of Voxwire Gold, our fabulous and flashy new web conferencing platform, I’ve been talking a lot about the ways Voxwire Gold can be used for marketing, training, making businesses more efficient and profitable, and distance learning. In a nutshell, Voxwire Gold is an all-inclusive cloud-based service, which means you don’t need any hardware or software to run the system—it all takes place virtually. It doesn’t matter if you have a Mac or a PC, Firefox or Internet Explorer, Voxwire Gold will work. There are so many useful features in the new system that make meetings more dynamic, productive and entertaining. Plus, the interface is sleek and professional—it’s quality that will bolster the image of any company that uses it.

In addition to the obvious benefits of online meetings—reduced travel expenditures, green-friendly business operations—there are so many intangibles that I’m just starting to recognize. The more your employees use a service like Voxwire Gold, the more connected they feel to each other and to clients. The regular face-to-face time via Voxwire Gold can be even more productive than an in-person meeting. Since you don’t have the distractions of the physical space, you’re all focused sharply on the meeting itself.

The more I talk about Voxwire Gold the more I realize just how versatile this platform is, and how few businesses are thinking outside the box when it comes to communicating and collaborating with colleagues and clients. Finding innovative ways to engage is what keeps a business vibrant and helps it to thrive, no matter what the challenges. While web conferencing as a concept is not new, an interface like this absolutely is.

Communicate and Collaborate with Employees

Keeping in close touch with your employees can be difficult, especially when they are working remotely. Even for offices with no remote workers, employees may travel for business and be out of the office for extended periods of time. Talking on the phone just isn’t enough. You may need to go over a presentation, or discuss a profit chart, or you may just prefer to have a meeting face-to-face. With Voxwire, you can share documents including streaming video, collaborate on a whiteboard and talk face-to-face from anywhere in the world. The more you use it, the more it feels like second nature. Some of our clients are using Voxwire with people in the same office, to demonstrate a new piece of software, or go through a presentation. As it becomes integrated into your day-to-day activities, you will marvel that you ever managed to get work done without it.

Webinars and Online Events

Webinars are a powerful marketing tool. They allow you to make a full presentation, complete with slides, Powerpoint presentations and online video, to large numbers of clients or leads. Many web conferencing platforms allow for large-scale webinars, but if your participants are required to download software, many of them won’t attend. Technical difficulties present the number one roadblock for successful webinars. Voxwire Gold works on any browser for up to 1,000 participants. You can also use Voxwire to hold a product demo for an online conference. Invite participants by sending them a link in their email. That’s it!

Training and Support

One of the most powerful features in Voxwire Gold is the seamless screen-sharing tool. Via the Voxwire Gold interface, you can take control of another participant’s computer. This allows you to offer direct computer-to-computer technical support, and makes demonstrating software quick and easy. Show your clients where to click, right on their own screen! According to several new Voxwire Gold clients who are using the service just for tech support, it has already significantly sped up business, in just the first few days of use! Similarly, if you currently invest a lot of time and money into training your employees, integrating Voxwire Gold into your training program will streamline the process immensely. Show training videos while participants text questions to their instructor. Record your entire session and link to it on your website for employees to review later.

Distance Learning

The biggest roadblock for online schools has been the interface. No matter how good your classes are, if you have a sub-par platform, the students will suffer. Voxwire Gold provides multi-media support for seamless class presentations alongside face-to-face video interaction. Voxwire Gold also includes education-oriented features like hand raising and online scheduling for course management. Use Voxwire for online office hours for one-on-one meetings, conferences with parents (especially helpful for boarding schools and colleges where parents may be far afield) and school community-building events. Record lectures for later review, and compile an online database of past classes for students and teachers. Voxwire Gold works especially well for remote language classes, where class participation is a critical part of the learning process. It is very difficult to learn a language if you can’t listen, speak and be heard.

Whatever your business model, Voxwire Gold can help with efficiency, productivity and your bottom line. Give it a try for free with our 14-day trial (no credit card required) http://voxwire.com. We’d love to hear what you think of the new service. Please feel free to drop us a line: marketing@turnkeyinternet.net.

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Written by admin on February 2nd, 2011

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