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?


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!