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Google part-restores baseball blockage

Do you like to Watch?

Letters It might now be simply a vast advertising franchise, but Google Inc. still cares about the little piece of technology which once give it its reputation: its search engine [*].

Although struggling of late, Google has applied some more stickly plaster to the cranky machine, and given baseball fans in London something to cheer. Google was blocking hundreds of thousands of results for the search terms "watch baseball London" and "watching baseball London". By Monday morning, the former query returned zero results: although it included a helpful pointer explaining why you couldn't see anything, thanks to a news link to The Register.

Now Google has given up its Un-American activities, at least partially. The query "watching baseball London" appears to be working as normal. Google introduced some emergency patching to deal with link farms, and queries which include the words "bracelet" and "watch" are severely truncated.

(There are in fact plenty of options for baseball fans in the United Kingdom, and Chat Mag editor Pete Carr points us to a few here).

"It's not all doom and gloom," writes Colin Wilson "although I'm glad that you guys are keeping an eye on such an influential portal".

Patrick Killian cites an argument we often hear from Google-adoring bloggers: the machines are fine, we just need to fix the humans:

"Baseball London" is a far more effective search. So Google only offers 186 pages, you need more? How do you have time to watch baseball?" (No problems about being grumpy, Patrick - you have a point).

However Steve Cox has made a fascinating discovery.

"I found your article on Google’s limited results kind of strange, so I ran the search myself, and was able to browse all of the returned results. The catch? I was using Opera (specifically, its built-in search box). I have since tried the Google search from Google’s home page using various browsers and got the same results you did."

"It boggles the mind – the only difference with Opera’s search is that it adds a tag telling Google that the search request came from Opera. Why would that turn off Google’s anti-blog filter? I don’t know, but don’t let Google know or they may screw that up as well!"

Looks like another point to the Norwegians.

This slightly facetious example is an illustration of a problem is causes some real teeth-gnashing. Redmond isn't too happy about the first result for SPOT watches: SPOT being its embedded technology for consumer devices, like, well, watches. SPOT has set up a nice link farm that relegates Microsoft's SPOT to number too. So although the anti-"watch" blockade is removing, it isn't entirely successful.

Thanks for all your letters and screenshots. ®

[*] "While they dream, Brin and Page also keep their eyes on the details: They use software to tally, to the second, how much money the firm is raking in," we learn.

Perhaps its time to augment this with a real-time bug tally? We can't keep count. ®

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