Deblurring Experts-Exchange

tl;dr: I decoded the generic "verified solution" image of experts-exchange.com, by stitching together Google search results. I had fun.

As you journey along your quest to resolve an elusive error, you take an unfortunate turn and accidentally click on an Experts Exchange link. What awaits you there is not an actual solution, but a paywall:

You start inspecting the DOM elements, as if it's the most natural thing in the world; it had already become a habit. What lies below is a Gaussian-blurred image of a seemingly real answer:

You can't help but wonder: "Could I deblur the image and read the text?" There is doubt, but it's overwhelmed with curiosity. You're aware that there are some special applications that could do the job, but you decide to make do with what you've got.

First, you try applying a sharpening filter to the image. It doesn't quite work, but at least you're now able to recognize a couple of words from it. A quick Google search reveals that the answer belongs to a page titled, "Which Gui-Based firewall should I purchase for my new Comcast Business Internet (5 Static IPs)?".

The page is plagued with the very same image, aptly so, and it doesn't help. Suddenly, you realize that Google knows more about the page than you do. After continuously searching the last words of the last search result itself, the missing parts of the answer reveal themselves:

By stitching them all together, you're finally able to read the entire "verified solution", which is indeed what's written in the blurred image:

Cisco ASA, maybe $600 you could find used. They are widely used so your internet level of support is much higher.

Sonicwalls are nice, kind of think of them as small business. Juniper SSG/SRX you may be able to find cheap as well, but they are a different beast and I have had trouble finding great support/assistance with them even from the VAR. They always had to Call Juniper support.

I think with an ASA you will be happy for a long time, but others may be lacking if you want to really learn the networking side more.

What is your goal?

How Google was able to crawl the page and cache the answer, remains a mystery. Perhaps it's possible to pretend being Google and break down the paywall, though you have no further interest in pursuing the subject. You never liked Experts Exchange in the first place: When you first started programming, they kept showing up in your search results, yet never provided a proper answer. After all these years, you still think that their domain name is much more interesting without the hyphen.

The taste of victory slowly turns into a chuckle at the corner of your mouth. You were not able to solve that error after all, but at least you had some fun.


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