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25 September, 2004

Search results

I've always resisted the introduction of commercial advertising into the Ministry, so with the announcement that the site search feature remotely hosted (for free) by Atomz is soon to become ad-supported, I've re-examined it.
I'm glad I did, as even though I tweaked the coverage in June, I think there'd been an unannounced 'upgrade', and the script was crawling an area I'd thought excluded from the search.  This put the page count over the 494-page cap, so a proportion of the Tull Tour History had been omitted from the database.  Reconfigured, the script went too far the other way, failing to crawl any of the photo pages.  This isn't adequate, and would require a high-maintenance workaround, so a little reluctantly I've switched provider.  Atomz has been pretty good, but I seem to have outgrown the free version of their site search.

As is fairly obvious from the home page, the Ministry now uses Google's Free Site Search. Yes, it's supported by context-sensitive adverts alongside the search results, but Atomz was about to introduce that anyway, and the fact that Google has the whole site indexed removes the need to use MT's built-in Search for the blog and a separate Search for the other departments.

After a considerable struggle I've managed to customise the appearence of the Google results page to approximately resemble the rest of the site. If you're tempted to try it at your own site, be aware that customisation is neither as straightforward nor as successful as one might expect.

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