Stephan WehnerBlog and Homepage

January 31, 2009

google broken

Filed under: internet — sw @ 8:38 am

This morning Google’s search results don’t work.

Let’s say you search Google for water. Then:

Each result has a warning under its link “This site may harm your computer”:

Google search results page for "water"

Clicking on the link doesn’t take your browser to the page as usual, but brings up an error message.

Error page when clicking on a search result link

Clicking on the “This site may harm your computer link” produces a help page with the title “Concerns About Web Search Results: Results labeled ‘This site may harm your computer’”:

Google help page about harmful search result pages

So now I search Google for “Concerns About Web Search Results: Results labeled ‘This site may harm your computer‘”. The first result is a Google support page at

http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=45449

But accessing that page leads to another error (no screen shot):

We’re sorry…

… but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.

What a mess!

Questions

  • Should visiting any web page really “harm your computer”?
  • On what basis would Google think that a web page is going to “harm your computer”? Does it take into account or even know what kind of computer you are using?
  • If Google had reason to believe a web page were to “harm your computer”, should the page be really listed as a search result? (Less is more?)
  • If a search result page is not marked with the warning, would you blame Google if you then visited the search result page and your computer came out “harmed”?
  • Are these search result page getting too crowded altogether? craigslist has barely changed their listing format and they’re doing just fine.

Update

Of course, this was a temporary glitch. According to google’s blog, “the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m. [PST]“. (So I ran into this just towards the end, around 7:20). The problem’s root cause is given as:

Unfortunately (and here’s the human error), the URL of ‘/’ was mistakenly checked in [to a list of bad URL's] as a value to the file and ‘/’ expands to all URLs”.

And it wasn’t StopBadWare.org’s list as Google had originally posted. (The two organizations work together on this list). Well, mistakes happen …

January 21, 2009

letter puzzle solution

Filed under: generic — sw @ 9:52 pm

For the solution to the January 13 puzzle please visit

(In case of “broken link”, a copy is at the Internet Archive)

It was solved within a few hours by the rec.puzzle newsgroup  crowd.

January 19, 2009

foggy hornby island weekend

Filed under: hornby island — sw @ 11:38 pm

The whole family went to Hornby Island for the weekend, where we have a little house. The weather forecast had been “sun”, but instead it was foggy. Usually one thinks of fog as obscuring the view, but I found it actually makes it easier to see! That’s because so much is blended out.

But fog also produces real effects. Here is a photo of the trees next to our lot. I tried to reproduce Richard Cole’s dramatic paintings. (Richard is a professional painter and used to live on the next block on Adanac Street in Vancouver – his son and our daughters are friends).

Trees in the neighbour's lot

Trees in the neighbour's lot

Then here is a photo of birds gathering on poles stuck in the water (a dock that didn’t last). I managed to catch one while in the air, which isn’t that easy with these modern digitial cameras, since they need quite a while from click to capture. The grass is green in the foreground – but everything else is black and grey.

Birds on poles

Birds on poles

And finally, a series of photos showing the ferry approaching out of the dark:

No ferry yet

No ferry yet

Ferry light grey

Ferry light grey

Ferry clearer

Ferry clearer

Didn't get much clearer

Didn't get much clearer

January 13, 2009

a challenge

Filed under: challenge — sw @ 9:37 pm

Here’s a very difficult puzzle; it might take a day or more to solve it, I would think.

What is this?

A A A B A D A E A G A H A I A L A M A N A R A S A T A W A X A Y B A B E B I B O B Y D E D O E D E F E H E L E M E N E R E S E T E X F A F E G O H A H E H I H M H O I D I F I N I S I T J O K A K I L A L I L O M A M E M I M M M O M U M Y N A N E N O N U O D O E O F O H O I O M O N O P O R O S O W O X O Y P A P E P I Q I R E S H S I S O T A T I T O U H U M U N U P U S U T W E W O X I X U Y A Y E Y O Z A

Answer: next week.

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