The strange visits of Google …

A mystery is happening this weekend.  My blog — this blog — normally gets under a hundred visitors a day.  Sometimes there’s a burst of activity, frequently tied to the fact that I have a list of all the US Senators’ Twitter accounts — somebody has a hot button issue and tells everyone to come to my site to get their representative’s account.  That’s very nice.  But this weekend, Google has been visiting a lot.  Not declaring itself to be a search engine, mind you, but clearly in an automated fashion thinly disguised as a user.  Here’s what I’ve seen:

First, it’s just a huge number of visits from “different” Google users.  The visits look like this:


The host is an internal Google Proxy, which tends to make me think its not a normal spider.  It claims to be running IE 8 on Windows Vista (this time), with a screen resolution of 1024×768.  I’m at a loss to think of any laptop that actually has that low of resolution;  clearly, this is not truthful.  So it must be either a bot of some sort masquerading as a user, or a virtual machine somewhere that is being scripted.

Sometimes they say they’re running Windows 7, sometimes Window XP.  But always IE 8.  And always with the 1024×768 screen resolution.

Another thing that’s odd is that it’s always coming from a Google search where my web site is #1 to #4ish in the ranking.  But it is very unlikely that people would search for all the different things these bots are hitting.

It doesn’t look like a normal spider, but it doesn’t look like a human either.  So what is it?