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What If... 26 October 2005 Edition
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I don't think I know a single person who doesn't use Google at least several times a week.

For many people, the search engine giant has become synonymous with "The Net" and provides their primary method of accessing the information they want.

But what would happen if it disappeared overnight and, when we fired up our browsers, we got "Unable to resolve domain: www.google.com" instead of the uniquely sparse yet inviting Google front page?

I guess most of us would simply opt to use another search engine such as Teoma, Alta Vista, or even good old MSN Search.

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While you're here, why not visit the Aardvark Hall of Shame and perhaps make your own nomination.

However, Google's disappearance would cause a lot more strife than just requiring us to use a different search engine.

Indeed, I was alerted to this fact just the other day when, for whatever reason, the server that dishes out Google's AdSense advertising became unreachable from my part of the Net.

The result of this was that a goodly percentage of the websites I regularly visit suddenly took ages to load. It seems that in many cases, while the browser was waiting for the Javascript hosted by Google's servers to download, it was unable or unwilling to properly render the rest of the page.

In effect, a growing amount of the web is becoming increasingly dependent on Google's servers and any catastrophic failure of such could cause widespread frustration and disruption.

I was very much aware of this potential when 7am.com had a presence on about a quarter of a million 3rd-party websites. Any outage of the 7am.com servers or comms links would immediately produce a wave of queries from websurfers and webmasters alike -- all wondering why pages carrying the news ticker or Javascript-based news pages were not loading properly (if at all).

It seems that one of the web's strengths (the ability to pull a page together from separate components offered up by different servers) can also be one of its weaknesses.

Fortunately, modern browsers do a pretty good job of working around content that can't be loaded but if a web-designer isn't aware of the effects that such missing elements can have, the results can still cause major problems.

If your website uses content served up by another site, I strongly suggest that you check the effect on page-loading if that content becomes temporarily or permanently inaccessible.

But what can you do if you're surfing the Web and find that a key server somewhere had died so that the pages you want to view load very slowly or not at all?

The simplest solution is to add the name of the broken server to your HOSTS file with an IP number of This will effectively tell your browser not to bother even trying to load material from that site. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about then you'll have to find a computer geek who does.

Although the Net and most hi-traffic servers are pretty damned reliable, I still think it would be nice if all web designers who use elements served up by 3rd-party servers took the time to fault-proof them. It might also be nice if more browsers offered the ability for users to enter an "ignore" list of domains that they didn't want to bother downloading content from -- just like ad-blockers do.

Is Google becoming an ever-increasingly important part of your online experience - either directly (by way of searches etc) or indirectly by way of the growing number of websites which carry ads or other content served up by Google?

Tell us all and see what others have to say in The Aardvark Forums

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If you feel that this is a good thing and/or you hold a "geniune affection" for yours truly -- then you are welcome to gift me some money using the buttons provided. In gifting this money you accept that no goods, service or other consideration is offered, provided, accepted or anticipated in return. Just click on the button to gift whatever you can afford. NOTE: PayPal bills in US dollars so don't accidentally gift more than what you were intending :-)

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Security Alerts
Flaw found in IE, Outlook installation (CNet - 06/09/2005)

Fixes in for critical IE, Windows flaws (CNet - 14/06/2005)

Adobe flaw puts PCs at risk
(CNet - 13/06/2005)

Microsoft Issues Long-Awaited WMP Fix
(eWeek - 19/04/2005)

Virus Alerts
Trojan rides in on unpatched Office flaw (Cnet - 02/10/2005)

New worm spoofs Google, Yahoo and MSN sites (Cnet - 02/10/2005)

Bagle attack comes in two waves (CNet - 21/09/2005)

Zotob worm hits Windows users (CNet - 15/08/2005)

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