Oh my, the Ai sauce is oozing from Google’s search, for which many are predicting the Fu of Google Search is gone. Yeah, it’s a mess, but frankly, I still have my fleet of hone bookmarklet gizmos and customized search engines that I still get effective use out of.

Quite a few of the wrenches and ratchets in my web toolbox go long long back to a time I recal Jon Udell speaking to some students, educators at Virginia Tech in a session Gardner Campbell had orchestrated. In his every so insightful way, Jon stressed the literacy of reading web URLs especially for the search parameters, all that gobbledy gook s=yackack&gist=988 stuff after a ? — that with such literacy, you can literally program / change the results of the link.

All this came back today when I saw Fredrik Graver’s post:

The Ars Technica article provides a magic wrench like twist to google’s search to shut off all of its AI suggested crap just by adding a &udm=14` to a search result.

I had to try it out.

The “new google” search for a particular breed of dog, half of which is in my pal Felix, presents what they think we need/want. As Clara Peller might bellow, “where’s the results?”, where just by adding a &udm=14 to the URL changes everything.

The “new” google search for Catahoula buries the damn results!
Look at that! Add a few letters to a web address, and vanquish the new search cruft to get the traditional, old skool, list of result links.

All nifty indeed, but of course, who besides me and maybe a small number of web heads would be bothered to manually enter google URLs, which frankly, are pretty unreadable even to someone who has that literacy.

That’s where what the Ars Technica article suggests to create a custom shortcut to do the work as by a “managed search engine” (works in Chrome, Firefox, maybe even Safari). This has been in my arsenal since maybe 2013, when I learned this from Chris Lott during a workshop in Fairbanks, Alaska.

I have a fleet of these in my browsers, so one more is in the toolbox. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to find where in their browser preferences this nugget lives —the Ars Technica post gets you close but heck I guess all the cool kids now just ask ChatGPT.

Here is mine:

Dialog box for "Edit site search" with three editable fields. In "name" is entered "Google Old Skool", for "Shortcut" it has "gw:, and for "URL with %s in place of query" it has "https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&udm=14&tbs=li:1"
Adding a site search to nuke Google’s AI stuff.

There are three field to edit:

  1. Name is just a label ao you know what it is when listed with all your other custom searches, but it also appears in the browser bar when you use it. Enter any name you like.
  2. Shortcut is just a code you can remember to use when you want to invoke this, I followed the suggestion from Ars Technica for “gw” being “google web”. Again, it does not matter what you use.
  3. URL with %s in place of query This is where you need to be specific, You can make one of these for any web search that has keywords in the URL for search results. Usually I get the search working like how I want (often searching for “dog”, go figure) and then I just copy the URL and replace “dog” with “%s”– which is just a placeholder for whatever keywords you want to search on when you call up this magic genie.

Now you get to play. Go to your browser’s URL display. Enter your shortcut (“gw”) and press TAB. Boom, you should see the name of your search thingie. Then type one or more keywords, and press RETURN (or ENTER)- you should then get the old style Google search results. The steps look like:

A nifty thing is that you can then add more keywords in the results display to modify a search, and it keeps the old skool search layout.

Figure this stuff out, and you will impress your friends, families, co-workers, random dudes in coffee shops, etc.

I can’t say how long this will work. But Google cannot mask it’s URLs, it can obfuscate them or change them, but all search results have the full set of query parameters in the displayed URL.

Speaking of Google Changing It’s Game

On of my finer and oft used URL tricks I foist on Google (like the really feel it!) is how I can make an google image search forced to give me results that are Creative Commons Licensed

I initiate this the same way as above, a different search shortcut (I use “gcc”) that has the search parameter for making it a CC licensed set of results. But I recently noticed it stopped working! With some fiddling, I found that they changed the URL parameter for CC licensed results that was before “tbs=il:cl” is now “tbs=sur:cl”.

This is what Google does, it pulls the tools from you and changes the way their products work. Previously a search for images had a parameter of “&tbm=isch” but now it looks like it uses “&udm=2” — I modified my special keyword shortcut for google images that return results only licensed for Creative Commons

Dialog box for "Edit site search" with three editable fields. In "name" is entered "Google Image Licensed Reuse", for "Shortcut" it has "gcc", and for "URL with %s in place of query" it has "https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&tbs=sur%3Acl&udm=2"

And that’s how you use your own wrenches to make google do what you want (for now). Just fit the open end of the wrench on the parameter string and remember “lefty loosy, righty tighty”

Featured Image: My own photo with my own remixing, no GenAI poop. Why Do Tools Get a Bad Rap? flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) modified by pasting in a long google image search URL and masking the tools in photoshop

Two metal wrenches and a rusty tipped screw driver sitt on a plank of wood,. A long strong of numbers and letters is added as if behind the tools,
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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


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