Teh Xiggeh


Hand-made PageRank?

Posted in Search Engines by Xiggeh on August 17, 2006

A few months ago I was pulling apart the Google Toolbar to see what kind of data was being thrown around in the background. This was nothing new, once you had the hash you could query anything.

It was interesting in two regards; the first being the PR response the toolbarqueries server returned, and the second being a much more comprehensive page of data being available (more on that later).

I couldn’t find the hash again, or get the toolbarqueries site to work in my browser, so for the moment I’m using Ethereal to pull out the server responses. Let’s see what happens on various sites:

digg.com “Rank_1:1:7″

theregister.co.uk “Rank_1:1:8″

slashdot.org “Rank_1:1:9″

cnn.com “Rank_1:1:9″

adobe.com “Rank_1:2:10″

Hello .. something’s different with that last one. Not only is it a PR 10 site, the the second parameter has changed from “1″ to “2″. Does this happen on any other sites?

nasa.gov “Rank_1:2:10″

apple.com “Rank_1:2:10″

statcounter.com “Rank_1:2:10″

Yes it does. In fact I couldn’t find a page with PR 10 without that number changing. What does it mean? I have a theory…

When it comes to ranking the web, you have to start somewhere. Back when Google first started crawling the web, no doubt Larry and Sergey popped in a few URLs and watched it explore links outward. It makes sense to continue this when calculating PRs through the index. To get the most accurate results by the 40th or 50th iteration, one could start with known trustworthy or “authoritative” pages.

I believe the second value in “Rank_1:2:10″ is exactly that – a flag saying this isn’t just any old web page, its an authoritative page. And to support this theory further, The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web paper published in 1998 has a section titled Personalized PageRank. It outlines an “important component of the PageRank calculation” and “a powerful parameter to adjust the page ranks”. This could be used to tone down PR for a site with an unusually large number of incoming links, or to adjust the PR for known authority sites in the database.

Does anyone have any information that could prove/disprove this?

More crazy UK stories

Posted in Funny Stories by Xiggeh on August 9, 2006

Just when we thought the world had gone mad enough…

Street Wars

Have you heard of Street Wars yet? If not, check it out – they have to hunt down other players in the city and squirt them with a water gun. It sounds like a great laugh, and if I had the time I would’ve taken part. But according to a news story players of Street Wars could face charges by police. Why? “water guns look real and could lead to armed police being deployed”.

How on Earth can a trained police officer mistake a flourescent yellow SuperSoaker water pistol for a lethal weapon? And if they did make that mistake, deploy armed officers, surround the poor wet chap and scare him shitless, exactly whos fault is that? Should the person with the SuperSoaker be charged for this? Or should police officers take the blame for spending thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money on a crazy false alarm?

Child Abuse

A booklet being handed out to school pupils across the country explains pupils “have the right to be protected from emotional or physical abuse”. Absolutely. “…such as cross-country running.” Woah, back up the bus. Cross-country running is child abuse? Now I admit I didn’t enjoy it at school, but I was the fat kid at the back, and no fat kid at the back enjoys it. But that’s what school is all about, non?

Firemen

A fireman’s job is never easy, but thanks to the wisdom of fire chiefs their job has been made that little bit safer. Yes indeed – they have banned the fireman’s pole because it poses a “health and safety hazard”. Apparently someone may slip off and hurt themselves, turn an ankle or receive chaffing to the hands or thighs. Uh huh.

But now firemen can respond to calls in a much safer fashion – six blokes running full-tilt down two flights of stairs.

Somebody think of the children!

Posted in Privacy & Rights by Xiggeh on August 2, 2006

As I summised in my last post, teachers aren’t allowed to put sunscreen on children, conkers and paper planes are banned, and children should wear sweaters at school in the summer, all for “the child’s safety”.

According to a news article in The Daily Mail last month, police can arrest children, hold them in a cell for hours, take DNA samples, use mouth swabs, and take mugshots for “the child’s safety”.

Now if a 12-year-old child was caught stealing a car, I could understand the measures taken to ensure further crimes by the child don’t go undetected. But these children were making a treehouse.

I think the police have gone way overboard on this one. But Superintendent Stuart Johnson believes making a treehouse is “destroying an ornamental cherry tree” and “anti-social behaviour”. He tries to justify their actions by saying “By targeting what may seem relatively low-level crime we aim to prevent it developing into more serious matters.”

There are many rungs on the criminal ladder between making a treehouse and stealing cars, Superintendent Stuart Johnson. Let’s hope by making examples of these children, storing their mugshots and DNA in a database and giving them enough stress to have difficulty sleeping for weeks, that other children thinking of making such outrageous contraptions will be too scared to leave the house.

[Update] Good Lord! Not chalk on the pavement! Arrest those little buggers! Hopscotch leads to terrorism!

Google Project Hosting

Posted in Search Engines by Xiggeh on July 28, 2006

Well, as speculated, it has finally arrived – Google now provide hosting for open source projects as announced yesterday at OSCON. Philipp Lenssen provides an excellent overview of the system.

Google Gearing Up For Corporate Web Builders?

Posted in Search Engines by Xiggeh on July 27, 2006

ResourceShelf spotted some new domain registrations from Google yesterday, and there’s a couple of interesting ones on the list;

  • Your-company-site.com
  • Your-company-website.com
  • Your-online-site.com

A bit spammy in my opinion, not like Google at all, but it shows a clear intent to market web sites to corporates. This isn’t surprising considering the popularity of Google Page Creator, and the commercial nature of many other Google products.

Supplemental Hell

Posted in Search Engines by Xiggeh on July 25, 2006

On 27 August 2003 GoogleGuy announced a new feature in Google – supplemental results. Although Google had done a great job of removing irrelevant pages from queries that returned a large number of results, they discovered that useful information was not being displayed for more obscure queries. To rectify this Google introduced the ‘supplemental index’ (SI). The supplemental index contained pages not recognised as useful enough to be returned in standard results, but not spammy or irrelevant enough to be shunned entirely.

Nate Tyler (Google Media Contact) explained; “The supplemental is simply a new Google experiment. As you know we’re always trying new and different ways to provide high quality search results.”

In fact this kind of thinking wasn’t new. In June 2000 Inktomi introduced a smaller index of authority sites, and a larger index with ‘the rest’ of the web, similar to Google’s main and supplemental indices.

Few webmasters complained when the SI was introduced in 2000, but trouble started to creep in on 24 January 2006 – a substantial part of Google’s main index began shifting into the supplemental index. It was a serious bug.

Without much recognition from Google, forums exploded with speculation about why this happened. I’ve done a bit of research on the topic and present some facts I’ve discovered, and my (equally unproven) speculation.

What is the supplemental index (SI)?

First let’s get Google’s official view on supplemental results when it was launched in 2003;

“Supplemental sites are part of Google’s auxiliary index. We’re able to place fewer restraints on sites that we crawl for this supplemental index than we do on sites that are crawled for our main index. For example, the number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in our main index; however, it could still be crawled and added to our supplemental index. The index in which a site is included is completely automated; there’s no way for you to select or change the index in which your site appears. Please be assured that the index in which a site is included does not affect its PageRank.”

The official line is rather vague. Let’s see what else we knew about the supplemental index before the bug(s) were introduced in 2006;

  • Pages could be moved to SI without being crawled (Google support pages)
  • Pages could be moved to SI after being crawled (personal experience)
  • “Some” of the moving process “happens in the crawl/index cycle” (Matt Cutts)
  • SI does not affect PR (Matt Catts)
  • SI is not affected by PR (personal experience)
  • Under certain cicumstances SI results will be listed above results from the main index
  • The SI is held seperately from the main index
  • The SI has dedicated crawlers, running on different cycles and agendas from the main index crawlers and AdSense crawlers

Some very good observations from the community, and some snippets of wheat amongst the chaff from Google. The dedicated SE community observation and Google spokesbot action took 3 years (just over). So what’s the problem? Big Daddy…

Big Daddy – Supplemental Hell

Between November 2005 and April 2006 Google rolled out Big Daddy – new software on a new architecture – across its worldwide datacentres. Servers were taken offline, upgraded, and brought back up. A datacentre took around 10 days to upgrade.

Matt Cutts originally said “changes on Big Daddy are relatively subtle (less ranking changes and more infrastructure changes)”, but once the rollout had started it became clear the changes were a bit more disruptive than planned.

An interesting live commentary of the rollout can be found at the WMW forums (24 January 2006).

Over a period of weeks a substantial amount of Google’s main index was placed in the supplemental index, and the problems haven’t completely cleared up yet.

In March Google “identified and changed” a “threshold” on Big Daddy which brought many of the supplemental pages back into the main index. At the end of March Google did the same again, telling Big Daddy to crawl more pages.

Getting out of the supplemental index

To quote Matt Cutts on this one:

In general, the best way I know of to move sites from more supplemental to normal is to get high-quality links (don’t bother to get low-quality links just for links’ sake).

From my experience over the last few months this advice works great. A site that went supplemental for 8 weeks shot right to the top for popular search terms using this method.

However it won’t work for everyone. You should do your own research (there’s plenty of advice out there, good and bad) to find your own solution.

References

Google Product For Open Source Developers

Posted in Search Engines by Xiggeh on July 25, 2006

Google’s Greg Stein has announced a forthcoming Google product aimed at the open source community, but has refused to give us any further information. The launch is to tie in with OSCON – the Open Source Convention, and on Monday 24 July 2006 Greg said “we’re putting the final touches on it as I write this blog post”. He promised full details on Thursday at his OSCON talk.

Greg has long been with the open source community – he is Apache Software Foundation‘s chairman and an engineering manager at Google. He’s previously worked on Subversion (SVN) and WebDAV.

Google Borg

Posted in Search Engines by Xiggeh on July 24, 2006

We noticed the “using_borg” string appear in the Google error message last week, and now the phrase has come back again through another Google leak. To quote Garett Rogers at ZDNet:

“When checking out Google’s impressive second quarter on Google Finance today, I stumbled across something that leads me to believe they are testing “version 2″ of Google Finance”

What he actually saw was a link at the top-right of the page (next to “My Account”, etc) titled “v2 (test)”. The really interesting part is the URL contained in the link:

http://0.frontend-live.sfe.scrooge.hs.borg.google.com/finance

The URL isn’t accessable from here, and others have discovered the same. Assuming ‘borg.google.com’ can only be accessed from inside Google’s network, this may shed a bit of light on what “borg” actually means to the engineers.

Oh, and it’s been spotted again by Philipp Lenssen, this time using Google Video. In fact there’s rather a lot in Google.
Could it be an acronym? Here’s some that might fit:

  • BMRT Ordinary Rendering GUI
  • Business and Organisational Leadership

Or could it refer Anita Borg – a woman who “spent her life revolutionizing the way we think about technology”

I believe “borg.google.com” is used for internal testing, and perhaps as a repository for code not intended to leave the building. This would explain the accidental link from Google Finance, and the Google error message if they’re pulling test code for new features.

Any more sightings or possible explanations?

DJ Zinc – Super Sharp Shooter

Posted in Lyrics by Xiggeh on July 21, 2006

I couldn’t find the lyrics for this tune anywhere on the web, so I’ve come up with my own interpretation. Hopefully it’s pretty accurate! Let me know if you have any comments, or find another interpretation somewhere. My ears aren’t what they used to be.

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The S, the H, the A the R the P,
The S, the H, the O, the O, the T, the E, the R.

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The S, the H, the A the R the P,
The S, the H, the O, the O, the T, the E, the R.

(Super Sharp!)

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The S, the H, the A the R the P,
The S, the H, the O, the O, the T, the E, the R.

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The S, the H, the A the R the P,
The S, the H, the O, the O, the T, the E, the R.

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The S, the H, the A the R the P,
The S, the H, the O, the O, the SUPER, the SHARP, the SHOTS.

Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
Blazin’ the stuff that they’re .. Blazin’ the stuff that they’re ..
Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
Blazin’ the stuff that they’re lacin’ the base in.

Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
Blazin’ the stuff that they’re .. Blazin’ the stuff that they’re ..
Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention.

(Super sharp shots!)

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The S, the H, the A the R the P,
The S, the H, the O, the O, the T, the E, the R.

Super super sharp sharp shots,
Shooting shooting,
Super sharp shooter shooting shots,
Super sharp … shots
Super sharp sharp sharp
Super sharp shooter shooting super super super sharp shots

If you’re going to step up to me then you’d better ‘xpect a slap.

Super sharp shooter shooting ..

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The S, the H, the A the R the P,
The S, the H, the O, the O, the T, the E, the R.

Super, super, shooters,
Super super shooters shooters,
Super super, shooters,
Super super shots.

Super, super, shooters,
Super super shooters shooters,
Super super, shooters,
Super sharp shooters shooting shots.

Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
If you’re going to step up to me then you’d better ‘xpect a slap back,
Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
If you’re going to step up to me then you’d .. super super sharp shooter.

Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,

Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
Blazin’ the stuff that they’re lacin.

The S, the U, the P the E the R,
The super .. sharp .. shooter,
Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
Blazin’ the stuff that they’re .. Check check check it,
Check it, I’m the fuckin’ man who they mention,
Blazin’ the stuff that they’re lacin’ the base in,

Super sharp shooting shooting

Sharp

Check it

Super sharp shooter shooting

Google Supplementals .. Itself

Posted in Search Engines by Xiggeh on July 19, 2006

This afternoon I was looking for a local I.T. support company (they’re a client of mine), and came across the Google Web Directory in the search results. What made me chuckle though – the result came back supplemental.

Google Supplemental

(view full size screenshot)

What goes around comes around, eh?

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