So, I connect my brand new monitor (details to follow) and attempt to look at the display settings in Windows (I’m running Windows 7 64-bit to be more precise). Except all I get is a pop-up boxed titled “explorer.exe” which states “No such interface supported”.
I’d also noticed that links in the Control Panel were often not working as well.
A Google of this error talked about repairing Internet Explorer 7 using the Windows installation disk (I don’t have one as my PC came with it pre-installed). Except I’m running IE9. I uninstalled it and dropped back to IE8 but had the same problems.
As it turns out the issue is more a general explorer problem (IE and Explorer are much the same thing).
Eventually, and via a Microsoft support page, I find the answer – on the site Internet Explorer FAQ they provide a number of scripts which can be used to repair IE (IE7 and IE8 and, I’m guessing, IE9). And they worked perfectly.
IE6 was launched in 2001 yet remains popular. Most of these users, I suspect, are businesses – we use it at my place of work. Except, there’s a growing back lash against the use of this version of the browser.
So, what’s wrong with it?
Well, security for a start, which has moved on a lot since 2001. For me, however, it’s the problem with web development. It isn’t compliant with the appropriate standards and developers often have to introduce “tweaks” to sites to get them to specifically work with IE6. Microsoft had been pretty lax with these standards1 and only really started making a nod to improvements with this release. It wasn’t until IE7 that serious consideration was made.
Then there are other issues – it doesn’t support transparency with PNG images, for instance. All of this means that whilst most modern browsers will just work if your site code is written properly, swathes of effort often then have to be put in to get it to work with IE6. Here’s a useful, but jokey, comparison.
But, hell no, Microsoft is going to keep supporting it, rather than withdrawing support and pushing IE8 out in preference. Odd, as they were keen to try and get rid of XP after Vista came out. That was until it became really popular again, thanks to Netbooks. Surely this isn’t a commercial issue is it? Microsoft appear happy to force users to upgrade if there’s money in it, but with free software such as IE, they’d much rather be seen doing “the right thing” for business.
However, playing devil’s advocate, I should point out that IE6 was the last version of Internet Explorer that was compatible with any Windows OS before XP. Therefore, if you’re hanging onto Windows 98 with your finger nails, you’re stuck with 6 as your IE choice. Having said, that, as I think that most of this is due to business, I suspect this isn’t their reason. I know at my place of work that certain essential online applications won’t run on newer browsers – and god help them think about buying anything newer
There’s a growing band of developers who are adding code of their site to detect and reject those using IE6. This is one way to go if you don’t want to develop a site specifically for this browser. The other is to swallow your pride and change it. Personally, I’ve not got around to checking this site with IE6 – there is a vast list of browsers I need to give priority to first. In time, though, I will and I’m sure, like a fool, I’ll fix any problems.
probably because they could be – what was the alternative at this point? [↩]
Yesterday I downloaded two software releases. And was left underwhelmed.
First up was the official launch of Internet Explorer 8. Nothing much appears to have changed since the Beta versions and I continue to be left disappointed.
People are turning towards Firefox, not because it shows web pages better, but because it’s more customisable – plugins, themes, etc. Microsoft has never really got this. Yes, Windows has themes and IE has addons, but there are few available and they’re hard to develop and implement. Instead we have Web Slices and Accelerators, requiring web developers to change their code and are deeply, deeply dull.
Next up, the people behind Xandros Linux launched Presto, which is intended to be used as a fast startup alternative to Windows. I’ve tried it on both my home PC and my Netbook and, yes, it works. It installs easily and configures Windows automatically to dual boot. Unfortunately, on both PCs I had different BIOS errors during the Presto boot and, yes, it’s still in Beta but it’s only a few weeks before the final version is released. Yet it lacks the basic ability to change languages and keyboards. So I’m stuck with a US keyboard layout.
By default it books with Firefox, Pidgin and Skype and you can add (some free, some you must pay for) extra applications via their website.
The final version is going to cost about $20, but that’s as much as they’re giving away right now. Personally, I’m going to wait for the final version as, at the moment, it’s seriously lacking that “oomph” that would get me excited.
When you have young children it’s important to monitor their online activity. As my daughter has got older, however, I have reduced the amount of such monitoring I do, giving her more privacy.
At first I used CyberPatrol, which is a paid-for product that will do everything from barring particular websites to time restricting program and internet usage. In time I moved to the free Windows Live Family Safety – this would monitor and restrict internet usage. I also had my daughters email settings send me emails that she received. Now both of these have gone (the latter longer than the former).
Now I no longer restrict what sites she can view but instead rely on being able to check her viewing history. She uses IE as a browser and I can check her viewing history at any point. I also know her email password – and she knows she’s not allowed to change it. In both cases it’s down to spot checks (assuming I make them) which makes it more of a threat of being caught than anything else. None-the-less she’s mature enough now to know what’s wrong and what’s right and that I can give her the level of trust that allows me to do this.
Before you wonder why she doesn’t just clear her viewing history, well, apart from it being obvious that she has, I’ve taken steps in that I’ve created two scripts. These (and they work up to and including IE8) will switch off and on the “General” tab in the Options, which is where the option to clear history exists. This isn’t fool-proof but will certainly do for my needs.
Both should be saved as .reg extensions and executed – they need to be run only once.
The first script adds a new entry into the registry and allows you to turn specific tabs off – in this case the General tab, but you can turn off others simply by changing their corresponding dword to 00000001. The second script removes this new entry and, hence, restores any hidden tabs.
Now, without going into the wrongs and rights of it all, most of my websites follow a familiar theme of being a set width. This blog, even though it’s WordPress, is, as is BMTG and Copy+.
This width is designed to fit on the width of what I deem to be the smallest screen that a reasonable number of people are using (on PC’s – not going into mobile phone handsets and the such). That size, in my belief, is 800×6001- the initial Asus PC’s, which sold so well this year, were exactly that.
However, the width I’ve been using has been very much a “finger in the air” affair – so much so, that the appearance of a vertical toolbar causes the horizontal one to appear in some cases. Yep, I got it wrong.
Firefox uses 17 pixels and Opera, well, god only knows – I got strange results. Without a vertical scrollbar, it took up (strangely) 1 pixel horizontally. However, introduce the scrollbar and it took up – the same. It would allow my image to be 799 pixels wide and not bat an eyelid. Make it 800 though and the scrollbar appeared. Why this happened I honestly don’t understand. But I’ve tried a 779 wide page and that works, so Opera is certainly not using up more than the “magic” 21 pixels.
Konqueror uses 19 pixels and Safari (on Windows) is the slimmest at just 15 pixels.
The Copy+ site has already been converted to this new width, and the BMTG site will be soon too.