Google Instant Test #1 – Emergency Scaffolding North West

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Well truthfully, it’s the third test, but you’ll only know that if you’ve also read my I Hate Google Instant!!! and recent Google Instant vs Internet Explorer posts.

Y’see I’ve become rather obsessed with the pointless refreshes that Google makes to display unwanted search results before I’ve finished telling it what I’m actually looking for.

Obsessed?

Okay, so I am eating normally and going outdoors every now and then to soak up some vitimin D, but it does really annoy me. Read my previous posts if you want the full details.

Anyway, I’m determined to find out what the maximum number of these pointless screen refreshes might be when looking for a legitimate search term. The last posts revealed 11 and 8 respectively, but I’m sure we can beat that!

Here we go…

We’re going to search for ‘Emergency Scaffolding’ in the North West of England. How long before Google gets there I wonder:

  • E – gets me E! Online, an American entertainment news site featuring celebrity gossip and pictures. Hmm… Great, but will it hold my house up?
  • Em – pulls up Empire Magazine, a film review publication from the UK. Yeah, I need scaffolding as my exterior wall is looking like it might collapse after a fire. Not sure I want to read a review of a remake of Towering Inferno thanks…
  • Eme – now I get Emeli Sandé, a singer apparently. Oh good, now I’ll have something to listen to while I wait for the scaffolders to arrive!
  • Emer – brings up Emerald Publishing Group. Er, sorry no!
  • Emerg – results in a Wikipedia definition for the word Emergency, just in case I wasn’t sure…
  • Emergency – gives me a list of emergency tax codes from HM Revenue & Customs. Nope!!!
  • Emergency S – and now I get the Wikipedia page for the emergency services. They’ve already been thanks…
  • Emergency Sc – gets me Emergency Scotland 2011. WTF?!?
  • Emergency Sca – over to a forum page about getting an Emergency Pregnancy Scan. Nooo!!
  • Emergency Scaf – appears to get me what I want as the top result is a scaffolding company in Manchester that operates in the North West, but wait a minute… Under that are several London companies and national companies. Where are my other local solutions?
  • Emergency Scaffolding Nort – well, we’re in the right zone. We’ve got scaffolders, but now they’re in Northampton. Keep trying…
  • Emergency Scaffolding North – excellent, back to scaffolders from (North) London. Oh, and one from North Wales…
  • Emergency Scaffolding North Wes – and we’re finally there!

Just one letter off what I’d have to have typed if I’d done it in full and after suffering 12 unecessary screen refreshes. I’ve eventually got what I wanted though i.e. Emergency Scaffolding North West

Did you say 12? Yes, indeed I did. A new record methinks!

In Conclusion

Why not have a go yourself and see if you can beat it? No prizes I’m afraid, just the kudos of knowing you’ve outsmarted (ahem) a search engine?

P.S. Sorry Google, but it’s too late! Whilst faffing with screen refreshes my wall has collapsed. Off to a bed and breakfast for me tonight…

Google Instant vs Internet Explorer

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Well it’s now nearly nine months since my I Hate Google Instant!!! post and things are no better. In fact, if anything, it seems to be getting worse.

I’ve now given up trying to use Internet Explorer (IE) to do Google queries as I’m sick of having my browser freeze up completely as Google tries to constantly update my screen with interim premature results that have no relevancy to what I’m looking for.

No IE bashing follows…

Now, I know the populist view might be to blame Internet Explorer as an inefficient browser, but I’m sorry to disappoint you all by telling you that it works fine with everything else.

You’d almost think it was a conspiracy though. Are Microsoft trying to force me onto Bing or is Google trying to get me to use Chrome? Well, I’m happy to disappoint both of them. I’m now on Firefox using Google, which still slows to a crawl unnecessarily, but at least doesn’t hang completely.

Sadly, like many other people I can’t ditch Google as despite its recent pointless and irritating improvements, it is still the best search engine for results. Sorry Bing, but you need a lot more than a new name if you want us all to switch.

But what is it for?

Exactly! As per the last post on this subject, we return to the question that has been on everyone’s lips for quite some time, “what exactly is Google Instant for?”

If I wanted the results for half the word or phrase I’m looking for, then surely I’d only be typing half the word or phrase in the first place?

For Example

Let’s take the role of a potential customer for the company of Swap yer for a driveway? fame. So I’m looking for someone who does concrete driveways in the Blackpool area. Here goes:

  • C – pulls up Currys. Er, no I don’t need any electrical equipment thanks..
  • Co – brings up Comet. Hmmm… Didn’t I just say I don’t want any household electrical items?
  • Con – gives me Congestion Charging. Well, it might be useful if I ever go driving in London, but right now I’m in Lancashire..
  • Conc – results in Concorde. A Wikipedia definition? I know that the cost of a new driveway might be equivalent to what it used to cost to fly on Concorde, but I hardly see how it is relevant. Keep trying Google…
  • Concr – after a brief screen freeze, I get the Wikipedia definition for Concrete. Well, we’re getting somewhere I suppose. Did you know that the word originates from the Latin word “concretus” (meaning compact or condensed)?
  • Concrete D – gets me one of those awful internet directory sites promising to get me the best pattern imprinted concrete installer in my area, whilst bombarding me with Google AdSense adverts…
  • Concrete Driveways – I now get Paving Expert, a very interesting site with a forum, faqs and more about paving and pattern imprinted concrete created by former installers who now do consultancy work for large urban projects. Not much use for my humble dwelling!
  • Concrete Driveways B – and next is  a local patterned concrete supplier for the Bristol area
  • Concrete Driveways Bl – and finally Blackpool! Wahoo! We’re there.

Okay, so that’s eight wholly unnecessary screen refreshes before I get to what I was after, namely Concrete Driveways Blackpool.

And was it faster? Nope!! In fact, the slow down and occasional freeze means that it takes longer. So what’s the point?

No better than spam…

And here’s a thought. Spam (unsolicited email, not the meat of Monty Python fame) gets a bad name for a number of reasons, one of them being that worldwide it accounts for significant unwanted network traffic, making servers work much harder for no reward.

Well, could Google not be said to be doing the same? We’re not talking about advertising here, but worldwide, Google Instant must be using exponentially more bandwidth than is necessary and for little result.

Even customers I’ve spoken to whose browsers do not freeze have said that they largely ignore what’s happening on the screen until they’ve finished typing!

No solution in sight…

And after all this time, and the internet awash with blogs posts like this one, Google still hasn’t taken the hint and provided a foolproof way to disable it.

It can be disabled using Google’s settings screen, but that means it gets stored in a cookie which is lost as soon as internet savvy individuals like myself clear down their temporary internet files. i.e. every time my browser closes.

C’mon Google, please, please, please either get rid of this useless irritating gimic or give us a querystring value that we can pass to turn the damned thing off.

And relax…

Right, rant over. Time to get back to work.

British TV Comedy Gold (Quiz Round)

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As they seem to be popular, I thought I’d share another of my quiz rounds. Another you say? Yes indeedy, take a look at Cryptic Computing (Quiz Round) if you want to know the origins.

This quiz is one for fans of classic British TV sitcoms, old and new. No, not old fans, although I fear that category might include me these days, as I owned many of these on VHS, cassette and even LP.

Best in the World

Now, it’s just my opinion (but also FACT) that British TV comedy is the best in the world. Something for the British to be immensely proud of and worth paying our antiquated TV licence fee for; particularly as many of the classics in this quiz were produced by the BBC.

Pst!! Don’t care what I have to say? Scroll down for the quiz then, see if I care!, Bozz.

Still here? Good. So what makes British comedy the best? Well, this isn’t going to be a University thesis on the matter (I’ve got a day job to get on with!), but I reckon a few things: interesting characters, excellent timing, originality and knowing when to stop.

Knowing when to stop?

Obviously there are a few exceptions (Last of the Summer Wine, Men Behaving Badly to name a few), but on the whole most British sitcoms have the good grace to quit whilst they’re ahead. Once the original ideas start to make a second appearance, they call it a day.

Fawlty Towers had just 12 episodes, because as John Cleese said, they’d covered everything funny they could think of that might happen in a hotel.

Our US cousins however, love to milk that cow. Friends had 238 episodes, each one of them indistinguishable from the other. “Could Ross be any more repetitive?”.

A quick gripe then if I may…

Now, given how great British comedy is, why oh why when it is shipped to the States, do their TV networks feel the need to make god-awful US versions of them?

The resulting efforts are soul-less dumbed down empty mimics of their original selves and very few make it past the pilot episode. Is our language and character that far removed from the country who inherited it from us?

I realise the American networks are mega-profit driven, but do they always have to go for the lowest common denominator? Surely with a population that is fives times that of the UK, there’s a market there somewhere.

I think I just feel a bit bitter for having imbibed so much American culture and slang from watching US films and TV shows and resent the fact that it isn’t reciprocated. Still, I suppose, at least it’s making money for British script writers.

Anyway, onto the quiz…

So, wherever you are, if you’re a fan of British comedy try your hand at this quiz. Can you name the character and show from which the following lines originate?

The Questions

  1. Right! My turn again. What begins with “Come here” and ends with “OW”?
  2. The whole panel’s deader than A-line flares with pockets in the knees!
  3. Is no rat, is hamster.
  4. Never before have I seen such a blatant display of poofery!
  5. I am the head of IT and I have it on good authority that if you type “Google” into Google, you can break the Internet.
  6. May I say, what a SMASHING blouse you have on?
  7. And what he done, he sent Mary and Joesph to Bethleham to have his son, and thereby to start the Christian faith.
  8. Good old Columbo. Just the one technique, of course. Still, shits on Quincy.
  9. A conman, sweetie?! Cher Abu Corma – the reincarniation of Abu Babu?! The spiritual leader of Sag Aluuh?!
  10. Knickers! A pair of feckin’ women’s knickers!
  11. Is that true Bambi? Did you do a Disney Nasty?
  12. Ooh Betty, the cat’s done a whoopsie…
  13. You won’t get a splash on you! Well… We’re across.
  14. Hey, toilet-mouth! There’s a child’s bike outside!
  15. Bed? Bed’s for sleepy people! Let’s get a kebab and go to a disco!
  16. This time next year, we’ll be millionaires!
  17. Are you going to make a brew or what Barbara? I’ve got a throat here like Gandhi’s bloody flip-flop.
  18. When people say to me: would you rather be thought of as a funny man or a great boss? My answer’s always the same, to me, they’re not mutually exclusive.
  19. Oh, those wrinkled stockings
  20. Some place Govan eh? Where else can you get a fish supper at 9am? Simple, just steal it off a drunk that’s been lyin pished outside a close all night.
  21. It’s pronounced b-stard!
  22. That was Big Yellow Taxi, by Jodie Mitchell. A song in which Jodie complains that they paved paradise, to put up a parking lot. A measure that would have actually alleviated traffic congestion on the outskirts of paradise.
  23. Why is it that no matter how many millions of pairs of socks I buy, I never seem to have any?
  24. And now for something completely different.
  25. Harold!!

Intermission

Time for a quick break. Can’t have you peeking at those answers can we? Let’s fill the space with a short clip from one of the shows featured.

Here is the very talented Stephen Fry as General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth delivering a classic line and sending up the British aristocracy of the time perfectly.

Okay folks, time to check those answers and see how well you did. With 2 points available per question, the best score on the night was 38 points.

Have you beaten it I wonder?

The Answers

  1. Captain Blackadder – Blackadder Goes Forth
  2. The Cat – Red Dwarf
  3. Manuel – Fawlty Towers
  4. Battery Sergeant Major (BSM) Willams – It Ain’t Half Hot Mum
  5. Jen – I.T. Crowd
  6. Richie – Bottom
  7. Alf Garnett – Til Death Do Us Part
  8. Mark – Peep Show
  9. Edina / Eddie – Absolutely Fabulous
  10. Father Jack – Father Ted
  11. Neil (The Hippy) – Young Ones
  12. Frank Spencer – Some Mothers Do Ave Em
  13. Geoff – League of Gentlemen
  14. Brian Potter – Phoenix Nights
  15. Gary – Men Behaving Badly
  16. Del Boy Trotter – Only Fools and Horses
  17. Jim Royle  – Royle Family
  18. David Brent – The Office
  19. Compo – Last of the Summer Wine
  20. Rab – Rab C Nesbitt
  21. Alan B’stard – New Statesmen
  22. Alan – I’m Alan Partridge
  23. George, Prince Regent – Blackadder the Third
  24. John Cleese – Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  25. Albert Steptoe – Steptoe and Son

Never heard of them?

If you haven’t seen many of the above shows, then your life is officially incomplete. Most of them are available on-line these days (both legally and illegally), so get Googling and immerse yourself in some uniquely British comedy.

My personal recommendations would be: Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Father Ted, Peep Show, The Young Ones, I.T. Crowd, Monty Python, Red Dwarf… Well, nearly all of them really!

Want more?

If you enjoyed this quiz, check out my Song Intros (Quiz Round), Cryptic Computing (Quiz Round) and Am I becoming a “Quiz Addict”? posts.

Right, that’s put me in the mood. Time to watch some DVDs methinks…

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