Sunday, 21 August 2016

Google - please stop breaking the internet

Google is killing the internet.
For a while, we've argued it's advertising.
Back in the 90s it was porn.

But in 2016, it's Google.
And they need to stop it!

Google Chrome was a great browser when it launched, but it has for years been a bloated monstrosity that would make Microsoft cringe with any of their earlier IE offerings (in fact, we thought IE10/11 was a great browser - exactly what Chrome promised to be).

But it's not just their browser. Google also encourage websites to link to their hosted ajax. Which makes some websites to run slooowly, as the entire javascript framework has to load from an external site before the page even renders. And it also encourages web builders to embed Youtube videos directly into their pages. And that causes some websites to run slooowly as often the jQuery based layout requires the video to populate the frame before the rest of the site appears.

And Google also infects almost every website (that hosts Ad-sense banners) with stupid, slow-to-load adverts that cause the entire computer - not just the browser, or the current page - to lock up entirely until every last bit of shite has finishing loading.

In short, the experience of browsing a simple web page in 2016 is slower than it was in 1998. And back then we had 56kbs dial-up and GIFs. Today I've got 100mbs broadband and a computer at least x8 times more powerful than my desktop PC at the time.

The irony that we're hosting a blog on Google-owned Blogger, and embedding Google-owned Youtube videos in the pages isn't lost on us, here at Nerd Towers. And it has been very tempting to give in to their almost constant demands that we apply AdSense to the account and rake in about twenty pence per month in return for making the site unusable with adverts - but there's no point complaining about other sites spoiling their user's experience and then doing the same thing ourselves!

Now I'm no internet privacy prude.
I don't mind Google reading my Gmail emails in return for free email and targetted ads. I'm not one of the tin-hat brigade who get paranoid about companies tracking my every move on the internet. I can't help but think that it'd make for pretty boring reading. I understand that linking content from different hosts makes for a richer experience.

But it's almost like Google is actively breaking the 'net.
The latest example of this was Youtube simply not working tonight. And not just in the Chrome browser.

Tonight I tried to tune in to the Terrain Tutor's live stream to see Mel in his new studio in Stoke-on-Trent. The video refused to play. The comments and live-chat thing worked just fine, but the video frame showed a freeze-frame of a gurning face and no video (or audio) was forthcoming. The little busy logo just span in the centre of the video, where a play/pause button should have been.

That was in Chrome. In IE the video was replaced with a static white-noise animation and the message "an error occurred, please try later". Same in Edge, and Firefox.

The problem was with the Youtube site, not my computer, as the same result happened on a second PC and the video refused to play (in a Chrome browser now I come to think of it) on my phone. Then I came across this question:

load resource: net::ERR_QUIC_PROTOCOL_ERROR

so out of curiosity I entered chrome://flags/#enable-quic into my address bar.

And disabled Experimental QUIC protocol.
Suddenly Youtube started working properly.
And websites which were either unusable, or ran really, really slowly were now just running annoyingly slowing (instead of un-usably slowly). Now how this managed to affect the IE/Edge brower, I've no idea.

But with all the shit that Google is pumping out into the internet, it's making many websites literally unusable. The problem is, even if I were to boycott every Google-based product and only ever use Opera browser to view web pages, the Google Rot is in just about every web site written since 2004 - so there's no getting away from it.

Please, Google.
The internet used to be amazing.
Put it back how you found it.
If you can't make it better, just stop bloody-well breaking it.

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