Month: January 2009

google broken

January 31, 2009 internet No comments

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 …

letter puzzle solution

January 21, 2009 generic No comments

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.

foggy hornby island weekend

January 19, 2009 hornby island No comments

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

a challenge

January 13, 2009 challenge No comments

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.