Unblocking Google Cache
31 Oct 2005
I got this in my e-mail today:
> Firefox extension unblocks Google Cache in China
> Chinese users of the latest version of the popular Firefox extension CustomizeGoogle are happy. A new feature modifies the Google Cache urls so that they are no longer blocked by the Chinese firewall.
I don’t have time to give it a try today. If anyone else within China has time to verify it, that would be great.
OK, I got a chance to try it out. It was easier than I expected, but the results were less than impressive. It works something like this:
1. Go to CustomizeGoogle and install the extension. (Note that this may require adding customizegoogle.com to Firefox’s list of safe sites.)
2. Close and reopen Firefox.
3. Under Tools, you will find the option “CustomizeGoogle Options” has been added. Select it. An Options window will pop up.
4. Under “Google Web Search,” the next to last checkbox should be “Add links to WayBackMachine (webpage history).” Check that box.
5. Now go to Google.com and do a search. I recommend you add “site:blogspot.com” to the search to guarantee you’ll get pages that are blocked in China. In the search results, you will notice there is now a link to “Filter” and “History” to the right of the “Cache” and “Similar” links.
6. Click on the “History” link. (The actual “Cache” link still doesn’t work any better than it did before.) Chances are, the page you want can’t be found in the WayBackMachine’s archives. You should be able to find some page from the blocked site if you click around, though.
So basically, this extension adds a link to a proxy of sorts to all Google search results. That in itself is cool. The problem is that the WayBackMachine is not likely to have the exact page you want to see archived. Not so cool.
Shortly after posting my update, I received this e-mail:
> This feature is only available in CustomizeGoogle for China available here: http://www.customizegoogle.com/zh-CN/
> The feature is not optional. Everyone that uses CustomizeGoogle in Chinese will get this feature automatically.
> This is how it works: All links to Google Cache, from the Google search result, are slightly modified. The Great Firewall doesn’t recognize the new links as Google Cache links, and therefore they are accessible for everyone.
> Also note that the feature has nothing to do with the History feature (WayBackMachine).
Ahhh, that further explanation was needed.
Still, I can’t get it to work. I uninstalled the English-version CustomizeGoogle extension, but when I tried to install the Chinese version, I got an error message:
> Firefox could not download the file at
> http:// www.customizegoogle.com/customizegoogle-0.34.zh-CN.xpi
> because: Not a valid install package
So I’m waiting for the next e-mail now…
It now works. Google cache links actually open for me! (The CustomizeGoogle Options menu is now entirely in Chinese, though.)