Tech Tuesday: Viewing Previous Versions of Webpages

Each Tuesday, pleasureinlearning brings you Tech Tuesday.  Come back each week for more ways to become efficient and effective in your use of technology. 

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Sometimes being a nerd is seriously great.  I embrace it.  Let me take you on a tour of two techniques I have used to look at PREVIOUS versions of web pages.  This is awesome.  I probably do this 2-4 times per month.

This week I am taking a refresher class on Computer Security.  It’s only been 3 years since I graduated grad school in the field, but everything changes so quickly.  The class I am taking is basically an “ethical hacking” class.  I may or may not have been doing some hacking and playing with sinister tools.  Don’t worry, I’ve been doing it all legally and in a way that would make a Level 4 biohazard facility proud.  Anyway, I wanted to look at a website that is blocked by my school (because you can download malware from it to remotely control other people’s computers).  I just wanted to read the website, so I used Google’s cached pages to view it.  When Google spiders the Internet to create its index, it stores the most recent version of web pages.  You can access them as shown in this picture.  Try it.

Cached Pages

I suppose you are trying to think of a situation where you could use this.  This month I have used this technique on two other occasions to which you might better relate (but they don’t make as good of a story!).

The first instance happened early this month.  Our college conducted an emergency drill.  During the drill they changed our website to be an emergency note and took down all of the normal content.  However, I work at another campus and still needed to get my work done.  I used cached pages to access schedule listings, the phone directory, and other pages important to my work.

The second instance was a personal one.  I recently posted on my personal blog about making tortillas from scratch.  In my post I linked to the original recipe.  Later on, when I tried to look at the original recipe, the website seemed to be down temporarily.  I simply pasted the link into the Google search bar and then used cached pages to view the site.

Cached pages are great, but they are only useful if you want to see a very recent version of a web page.  Sometimes I want to look at a web page as it looked months or even years ago.  Why?  Around here I work with a lot of transfer students.  Sometimes they took a class a long time ago from another college.  In order to get their class accepted, they have to provide a course description from the year they took the course.  Sometimes the easiest way to do that is to look at a previous version of the catalog on the college’s website.  Not all colleges post previous version.  Enter Archive.org.  This is a non-profit whose mission is to archive the Internet.  All I had to do to get the website below is to type in the college’s website at Archive.org and then navigate to the catalog page that was posted over 10 years ago!

Archive.Org

If you want to play with Archive.org, I recommend looking at previous  versions of Google.com.  As long as we are on the subject, be careful what you post on the Internet.  It really can’t be deleted (contrary to what this judge seems to think).

Gosh, I get all giddy when I can pull off this kind of wizardry.  Happy Tuesday!

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