heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Google's pointless preview

Don't get me wrong, I like Google. But recently they've been throwing new functionality at their systems for reasons that don't seem much beyond "because we can".
One recent addition really agitates the hell outta me. It's that magnifying-glass preview thing. I mean, really, what the hell is the point? Up will appear a little box showing a nice graphic of how the page looks. Um... And?

Now, I'm not going to go all crybaby and defect to Bing! swearing never to touch Google again. I'm too enamoured with StreetView for that. And, besides, only lusers whinge and defect. Real Geeks do something a little more pro-active. For God's sake, it's the Internet and it's the 21st century. Let's get creative!

 

Stopping it on the browser

The most useful for people is to kill this crap stone-dead on their browser. If you're running Firefox with AdBlockPlus, it's a doddle.

Press Shift-Ctrl-E to call up the ABP settings, and add a new rule. In that rule, type exactly:
google.com###vspb
Now add this rule:
google.com##.vspi
Note that it is hash-hash-dot now, not three hashes. One final rule:
google.com##.vspib

You will probably also want to repeat these three entries with modifications for any localised versions of Google that you visit, for example:
google.co.uk###vspb - for British Google.co.uk
google.fr###vspb - for French Google.fr
google.co.jp###vspb - for Japanese Google.co.jp
And so on. Remember, it's all three for each regional version.

Done? Okay. Restart Firefox. Bam, no more little magnifying glass and no more annoying bandwidth-sucking over-sensitive unwanted pointless waste-of-effort (get the feeling I don't like this feature?) preview.

 

And doing likewise on the server side of things

I am soon to implement a modification to my b.log that if an IP address fetches too many pages in too short a time, it will be blocked and will receive 404s from that point on. This is because certain search engines have no respect whatsoever and scrape my site by clobbering the site with a new page every second. This isn't overly important to me as my provider doesn't run a bandwidth limitation, but for a lot of people, they do have to consider bandwidth allocations.

Such as a preview sucked purely in order to display a pretty picture.

Well. No longer on this b.log.

If you're running a site off PHP (or can sneak some PHP into your HTML), then you might want to consider the following:

// stick it to Google preview
if (strpos( $_SERVER["HTTP_USER_AGENT"], "Google Web Preview") !== FALSE)
{
   echo("<html><body bgcolor=black><h1 align=center><big><big><font color=white>Say ");
   echo("<b><u>NO</u></b> to Google's<br> pointless preview!</font></big></big></h1>");
   echo("</body></html>");
   exit();
}
The HTML is not supposed to be good, it is supposed to be the absolute minimum necessary to get the job done.

It will have the following, rather pleasing, effect:

Pointless preview message in action.

 

Your comments:

Please note that while I check this page every so often, I am not able to control what users write; therefore I disclaim all liability for unpleasant and/or infringing and/or defamatory material. Undesired content will be removed as soon as it is noticed. By leaving a comment, you agree not to post material that is illegal or in bad taste, and you should be aware that the time and your IP address are both recorded, should it be necessary to find out who you are. Oh, and don't bother trying to inline HTML. I'm not that stupid! ☺
 
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Rick, 24th November 2010, 04:37
Oh, and yes, I have noticed that the first and last entry on the Google example are the same page. Go figure...
Rob, 25th November 2010, 09:37
It would probably be better to send too-many-request clients a 403 rather than a 404.. But I agree re the pointlessness of the google preview. Not that I've seen it, think I've got too much js disabled..
Bob, 21st September 2011, 08:42
Agree - Google's tin ear to stuff like this may be its undoing.

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