Archive for the 'Google' Category

Google makes site: searches easier

Friday, April 23rd, 2004

Google "site:" searches no longer require search terms. I used to search for e.g. " -asdf" to get a list of all pages on a site; now I can just search for "". I don't know how long this has been fixed.

Experience Google’s new look

Saturday, March 6th, 2004

Google has been testing a new look with a small percent of visitors. I wrote a bookmarklet that lets you make Google show you the new look:

toggle google look

(Drag it to your bookmarks bar, visit, and click on the bookmark.)

It works by changing the ID in your Google cookie to 102c51875a8839e9, the ID of one of the visitors Google randomly selected to test the new look. If your ID is already 102c51875a8839e9, it sets it 0000000000000000 (anonymous), letting you switch between the old and new looks quickly. Since the bookmarklet only changes the ID part of the cookie, it preserves your settings, such as the number of results per page.

Thanks to jcurious for pointing out the Neowin thread in which "poind" posted the ID from his Google cookie.

Update March 28, 2004: Google is now showing the new look by default. The bookmarklet no longer has any visible effect.

Update January 27, 2005: iMilly has created a modified version of this bookmarklet to anonymize your Google cookie.

Google’s leap year logo

Sunday, February 29th, 2004

Look closely at today's Google logo. I missed it the first time.

Google “for president”

Saturday, January 24th, 2004

Howard Dean leads in a Google search for "for president". He is followed by Bush, Kucinich, Clark, Kerry, Nader (2000), Edwards, Lieberman, Gephardt, Braun, Cthulhu, Bradley (2000), a hamster named Potus, Cusack, nobody, and Tony Blair.

Google search tip: wildcard word (*)

Sunday, November 2nd, 2003

Google treats "*" as a wildcard meaning "any word". You can use it in phrases to:

Ignore unimportant words

Fill in phrases where you don't know a word

See how people have filled in expressions and jokes

Crudely "search by proximity"

(I looked through my old searches by pressing Down in a Google search form in Firebird. The resulting autocomplete dropdown contains ~7000 Google searches I have done.)

Google Cache and slow CSS

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

If you use Google Cache when a server isn't responding, and the page uses an external style sheet, you won't be able to see the cached page. The reason is that most browsers block page display while waiting for the style sheet to load, and Google doesn't cache CSS or images. This limits the usefulness of Google's cache, especially now that CSS is popular.

Google could cache CSS along with HTML. To avoid spidering and storing every page's CSS, Google could proxy CSS loads for Google Cache users, and have the proxy time out after 5 seconds. But both of these solutions might use a lot of bandwidth.

Google could add code to cache pages to make CSS load later or in a non-blocking fashion. This has the disadvantage that when the server is responding, the page will be presented unstyled for a split-second. Since some Google users use the cache even when the site isn't down, this would be bad.

I hoped there would be a way for Google to add code to cache pages to stop blocking loads that are taking too long. JavaScript can detect a slow load: call setTimeout above the LINK element, and call clearTimeout in another SCRIPT element below the LINK. But the function setTimeout activates can't cancel the load by disabling the style sheet, changing the LINK's href, or removing the LINK element from the document. Browser makers didn't anticipate JS trying to cancel a blocking load. (Removing the LINK element from the document even crashes IE.)

Another solution is for browsers to make CSS loads block less:

  • 84582#c11 - CSS loads should stop blocking layout if they take more than a few seconds
  • 220142 - Pressing Stop while waiting for CSS should finish displaying what has been loaded before stopping.
  • 224029 - JS can't cancel blocking load of a style sheet

Clever blogspammer

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

A spammer posted the following comment on my old blog post Chrome URLs in Mozilla and Mozilla Firebird yesterday:

I've been a long time user of both IE and Netscape. Now I'm using Mozilla and Firebird. Although I'm a fan of Mozilla and Firebird and have recommended it to friends.

The poster's URL had a spammy-looking domain name ("success-biz-replica"), but the site itself didn't look too spammy and the comment seemed fairly on-topic, so I didn't delete the comment. But today I stumbled on a very similar comment here and realized the comments were spam. The spammer probably decided to spam blogs mentioning Mozilla because those blogs are likely to have high Google PageRank.

I went into my web server logs to see what search phrase she used. I figured it would be something like mozilla "post a comment" "remember personal info" but I wanted to see the exact search phrase. I searched for the poster's IP address and found this: - - [26/Oct/2003:11:07:05 -0800] "GET /archives/000007.html HTTP/1.0" 200 12252 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; Alexa Toolbar)"

There was no referer, which probably just means she hid the referer intentionally. But I noticed something else: she used Internet Explorer to post the comment.

I deleted the comment.

Google spell correction

Friday, October 24th, 2003