reCaptcha Fail Whale Gravatar

This is the season of seminars and projects in Engineering colleges in Odisha (For 7th semester students). When I was in my 7th semester, most students were coping ready made seminars from other students or seniors. Some people search on internet for a ready made seminars. A very few students were doing research on their interested topics to create a original presentation. Most of the people stopped near Bluetooth or WiFi or any most common topic as their seminar topics. During 7th semester, I decided to give a seminar on Holographic Memory, about which I read on my favorite technology magazine Digit as it was looking promising to me. In my 8th semester, I moved a step forward and prepared my seminar on Web 2.0. Unfortunately, I only submitted the paper, did not get opportunity to explain Web 2.0 to anyone.

4 long years passed. Still most of the students are doing the same, looking for ready made seminars or preparing for seminars on common and old topics. In this post, I am going to say a few words about three interesting topics. If I would be in my 7th semester, then I must be selecting one of these three topics as my seminar topics. If by any chance, any such student read this blog and anyone of these three topics interests you, then you can choose that topic.


Let’s start with Gravatar. Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar. The above pictures are Gravatars of those people. You must have watched recent Hollywood blockbuster Avatar. If you have not watched it like me due to any reason, then you must have heard much about it. So, what’s Avatar? If you have some knowledge on Hindu mythology, then you must have heard about Dashavatar. From Wikipedia,

In Hinduism, Avatar or Avatāra (Devanagari अवतार, Sanskrit for “descent” [viz., from heaven to earth]) refers to a deliberate descent of a deity from heaven to earth, and is mostly translated into English as “incarnation”, but more accurately as “appearance” or “manifestation”.

But when it comes to computing, an avatar is a computer user’s representation of himself/herself or alter ego whether in the form of a three-dimensional model used in computer games, a two-dimensional icon (picture) or a one-dimensional username used on Internet forums and other communities, or a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs.

Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. It needs only your email id to identify you and shows your image associated with the email id. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums; Gravatar will help you to identify you on any site. If your email id is not associated with any Gravatar, then your avatar will be anyone of the Mystery Man (WordPress default), blank (seriously, nothing will be displayed there), Gravatar logo, Identicon, Wavatar, MonsterID, or any other image. Identicon, Wavatar, and MonsterID are unique for each email id.

More info on Gravatar can be found on its website and Wikipedia. If you are choosing this topic, then show one or two scenes from movie Avatar and few photos from Dashavatar of Vishnu, while explaining Avatar. This will make your presentation interesting. Don’t add more, otherwise Gravatar or Avatar (computing) will loose the weight in the presentation. Also, don’t forget to tell about Yahoo Avatars. And the MonsterID is the funniest part of this. You must be knowing few people who would be attending the seminar and the email ids of those people. Try to get the MonsterIDs of few of them (who must have a good sense of humor) and show during the presentation. As a celebration of this post, I turned on MonsterID for this blog.

Let’s come to reCAPTCHA now. A CAPTCHA is a program that protects websites against bots by generating and grading tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot. For example, humans can read distorted text as the one shown below, but current computer programs can’t:

The term CAPTCHA (for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) was coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University.

There are many type of CAPTCHA are available. One of which are reCAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA is a free CAPTCHA service that helps to digitize books, newspapers and old time radio shows. Normally there are computer applications which scan books and converts words to digital format. The problem with these applications are, they are not perfect. They are not able to interpret many scanned words correctly. Here reCAPTCHA shoots two birds with one bullet.

There other types of CAPTCHA are available. Like asking to solve a small mathematical problem like addition, or subtraction etc. Some show you an array of images and ask you to find the odd from the even. Some shows an image and ask how many kittens are on that image. Some shows some images and ask you to choose a word from a drop down list which is related to those images. Some CAPTCHAs also support accessibility. If you can’t read the word, then you can hear them and then type. reCAPTCHA also supports this well.

If you are choosing this topic for your seminar, then tell about the problem of spam, the CAPTCHA, then reCAPTCHA and then tell alternatives of reCAPTCHA.

Fail Whale
And now let’s fall in love with the Fail Whale. Who wants to be fail? But the Fail Whale loves to be. The “Fail Whale” is this above graphic of a whale held up by a flock of birds illustrated by Yiying Lu (@yiyinglu on twitter). It is employed during periods of downtime by the social networking service Twitter. And to know what happened to that please click here (middle click to open in a new tab).

This is an interesting and funny topic. There is a risk in choosing this topic as your seminar. But if you take risk, then you may be star in your class.

If you choose anyone from those above topics, then please share your experience with me. Please comment below.


  1. Also had a similar experience in 7th and 8th sem. Almost everyone gave copied seminars. I gave seminars on “Personal Nuclear Devices” and “Wireless Charging” (EEE student).. Didnt get to explain in class.. gave the seminar in the EEE staffroom and the faculty members were dumbfounded and clueless..

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