Friday, 19 April 2013

Can anyone help ... ?

The ubiquitous West Bank water butts
I don't do conspiracies.
But what's been happening to Google searches via Chrome on my trusty Macbook since I came back from Palestine a few weeks ago is genuinely puzzling.
And I wonder if it, or anything like it, has happened to anyone else.
Relaxed in Ramallah
Back at the end of March, just before Easter, I spent a while in Ramallah designing a new diploma and postgraduate course on Strategic Communications at Birzeit University.
Ramallah is, incidentally, one of the most sophisticated and relaxed cities I've ever stayed in.
Once I'd finished there, I spent Easter/Passover in Jerusalem ... and noticed that some of the internet "issues" I'd experienced in Palestine were still happening.
Mostly, Google searches timing out. Or error messages telling me that websites - the site for the Ramallah hotel I'd stayed in, for instance - didn't exist,  though I knew they did.
I put it down to bad WiFi. Just one of those things.
But ...
Back in London last night, I picked up some of the threads of the work I'd been doing in Palestine.
I needed to search for Hanan Ashrawi, the veteran Palestinian spokesperson.
So, on the Mac that had been with me on the trip and using Chrome, I put Hanan's second name into Google. And got this:

OK ... glitch. Try "Palestine:

Hmm ... I had a vague memory of 'stuff' like this happening in Ramallah and Jerusalem. OK ... try "Ramallah":

Same for "Erekat", "Abbas", "Fatah", "Hamas", "Birzeit", "Gaza" and "intifada".
Must be a broken browser ... so, to check, tried "Jerusalem":

Lucky shot. What about "Netanyahu":

Right. Must be working now. Glitch sorted.
Except ... no. Still, Palestinian search terms gave no results and crashed Chrome.
Switched to Safari and Firefox ... which both worked just fine. And Chrome working fine on my PC, using my Google account.
Odder and odder
Oddly, "city of Ramallah" produced no browser crash and the usual hundreds of search results. Ditto "palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat".
But still, even today (after numerous cache clears and that old standby 'turning it off and on again) the one or two word terms that crashed Chrome in Palestine and did so again last night are still, eventually, returning 'Page(s) unresponsive'.
Like I say, I don't do conspiracies. I'm happy to believe this is all my fault and I'd done something weird.
But two questions.
Has anyone else had anything like this? And how can I fix it?

Another small stone on the mountain

I've hesitated before adding to the post-Chilcot comment mountain. But there are a couple of things that strike me - especially since ...