How Do I Do That With My Web Browser?
By Robert McMillen- Koin’s Tech Guru
Web browsers have lots of functionality that we never use. It may be that we don’t want to mess with something that works, but for others it may just be fear.
Here are a list of questions I’ve received over the past few weeks.
Q- “Which web browser should I use? Internet Explorer (IE) or Firefox?” Steve A. Portland
A- There are several popular web browsers currently out there. Besides the two listed, there’s Opera, Safari, and Chrome. Opera has been around for a while and has some unique features that IE and Firefox eventually adopted. That says a lot for the little guy. Safari is almost forced on us if you have installed ITunes. It’s not all that innovative, but it is fast. Internet Explorer is no longer supported on Macintosh, so Safari or Firefox is your best bet. Chrome was put out by Google to make more money in ad revenue (in my opinion), and there’s nothing compelling to use it over the leaders. You really should have both IE and Firefox. The reason is that approximately 10% of all websites (at last count) won’t run on anything else. There are also websites that won’t run on anything but Firefox. So if you have both, that should cover 100% of the market. The also-ran browsers are mainly used by non conformists who rarely ever listened to their mothers.
B- Q- “Why do I get a blank black box when I try to play a video in my browser?” Lynne I. Beaverton
A- Ahh, the dreaded blank boxed video. If you’re in IE, it’s probably because you don’t have JAVA turned on. You can download this for free from http://sun.com. If you’re in Firefox, then it could be that you don’t have the missing plug-in installed. You can get the plug-ins by going to the Tools menu and then choose Add-ons. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that even that will work. For instance, the Windows Media player plug-in almost never works in Firefox. You may just have to go to the same website in IE. If you get the black box in both web browsers then you might be missing QuickTime. Go to http://apple.com to download that. It’s just a different file format some websites choose to use to feed you video. There’s also Flash from Adobe and Silverlight from Microsoft that needs to be downloaded in some instances. These usually cause a pop up prompting you to install it if you need it, but for some reason QuickTime doesn’t always do this. It depends on your security settings. I think it’s all about market share. If they really wanted this to work seamlessly, it would. I used to have a Y2K emergency kit. It consisted of one number 2 pencil, and I’m thinking that may have been a more seamless way to go.
Q- “How can I narrow my searches in Google so I don’t get a bazillion responses that don’t mean anything?” Sarah J. Seattle
A- Sarah, we will never get this economy going again if you don’t let yourself be bombarded and manipulated by advertisers. That’s how Google makes money. But if you insist on keeping our economy down, then I will tell you, but you have to keep it a secret. ::Big Sigh:: Ok, when you put a search into Google one of the tricks I use is to go to the Advanced Search Option button on Google’s home page. Don’t be scared. If you’re looking for a new stainless steel refrigerator, and who wouldn’t be with all this stimulus money floating around, type in the line that says “any exact wording or phrase”. If you get a bunch of unwanted searches, then go back and choose to exclude any words you don’t want to see. You may not want to shop at a particular store, so place the name of that establishment in the box that says “any of these unwanted words”. That should narrow down the searches for you. Now open your wallet and buy something. You knuckles are white from holding that thing too tight.
Q- “What is tabbed browsing?” Sarah O. Tigard
A- If you have IE 7 or newer- or just about any other web browser- you can use tabbed browsing. This allows you to open as many websites as you want within one browser. This is great if you hate to see all those Internet Explorer sessions eating away at your RAM. A couple of suggestions for you: If you like several web pages to open every time you open your browser, you can now set multiple home pages by going to the Tools Options menu. That’s a big time saver. If you’re having trouble with new sessions opening every time you click a link in a website, then try right clicking that link and choosing “open in new tab”. To open a new tab, just hold down the Ctrl button and hit the T key, or go to the file menu and choose “New Tab”. Or you can go to the grocery store and buy new TAB, but to me it still tastes like the old TAB.
Q- “Why does my Internet Explorer hang up and no longer launch?” Huntley F. Portland
A- This is a tricky one. Of course you could have a virus or spyware that keeps it from opening properly. You could also have a broken program. The thing that works for me, in most cases, is to go to the Tools menu and choose Internet Options, Advanced, Browsing, and uncheck the box that says “Enable Third-Party Browser Extensions”. Sometimes your tool bars or other add- on programs are what is causing the problem. This allows IE to open first and then you can see what you are missing from your browser. Make sure you do a scan for viruses and spyware. If your antivirus/spyware programs are no longer working, then go to http://trendmicro.com and choose “Housecall” to do a free scan and virus removal. If it was one of those pesky things, then that should fix you up, and you can now update your programs.
For more great tips, check back here each week and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show at 9:00 Sunday mornings on AM 1360 KUIK, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com.
If you would like your technical question answered here, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if it doesn’t get answered in the column I will always answer by email.