I felt like I was going nuts! Starting last Wednesday I could not access Google directly from Safari or Firefox. If I typed a search term in the browser’s search box, or if I entered www.google.com in the address field then I got:

Safari can’t open the page “http://www.google.com/” because it can’t find the server “www.google.com”.

Huh? Google unavailable? How is that possible? It was a very weird feeling. It made me realise how dependent I am on Google. How do you find things on the net without Google?! Yeah, I know there are other search engines, but they are, let’s face it, less useful.

At first I thought it was just a temporary glitch which would solve itself in a few hours. But no, a day later it was still unavailable. Okay, now if it was true that google was offline for more than a day then it would hit the headlines, but checking a few news sites revealed no unrest.

After talking to my son I realised that I could get there indirectly by going to google.nl, click on the link “Google.com in English”, which led me to google.com and then I could do my search. While I was grateful at being able to perform searches again it was a bit irritating, indirect, and confusing. Okay, then the problem wasn’t with the google servers.

So then I tried to find out if anyone else had the same problem, by doing a, you guessed it, search in Google by googling “google inaccessible safari firefox” but nothing relevant showed up. (How many times can you say “google” in one sentence?) I was starting to come to the conclusion that I was the only one in the world with this problem.

Then I thought of searching on “Safari can’t find the server ‘www.google.com'”. Ahh. After trawling through a few forum postings it seemed like the problem was that I hadn’t specified my DNS servers. This is an optional setting in the System Preferences > Network panel, under the TCP/IP tab, and I have always left them empty. Now I have entered my ISP’s DNS servers and ta-dah! I can direct access to Google again. I don’t think I understand why this problem suddenly appeared (although I suspect a recent system update), but I’m happy to have solved it.

So I learnt several things, the most interesting is how much I rely on Google. I rant and rave about how they are sucking up all the world’s best (programming) brains, but I’ll rant a little softer now.

BTW, did you know that Google hates it when people use the word google as a verb?

Categories: Geekery

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