Category Archives: Browser Tips

Someone Told Me “Clear Your Cache (Cash)”, Huh?

I once told one of my customers, “You need to clear your cache.” and she said, “Anne, clearing cash has never been a problem for me!”;-) It was then that I realized that this is not an average term and BTW, cache is the correct spelling. First, what is a cache when we are speaking Geek.

In order to save on network traffic, when you visit a web page, a browser (e.g., Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari…) tries to determine if you have visited the page before and, when you have, it will try to determine if there have been any changes to that page since you visited. To do this, it keeps information on your computer about where you visit in your history. In particular, it keeps whole copies of webpages that you have visited on your computer in your “cache”. So if a page has not changed, it will just display the copy of the page that is on your computer from your cache rather than getting it from the host up in the cloud. Most of the time this works great and improves the speed at which you can surf your favorite sites.

There are of course settings preset in a browser for the average web surfer. There are also setting at the hosting service for the website. These settings may work better or worse for your particular surfing habits. For this reason, sometimes, you can get a page with old information on it. If the computer decides you have a current copy on your computer and it turns out you don’t, then you see old information until time or you clear your cache.

This can cause a number of viewing problems. Old prices on a catalog page. Occasionally, if you get an error at a website caused by the website and then the webmaster fixes it, your cache can cause the error to keep happening to you even after it’s fixed. In general, this happens most frequently when you visit a page right before and then again right after a change, but sometimes, it just get’s stuck. Time can heal most wounds but sometimes you just need to clear your cache before you will see a repaired site. Certainly, you will see the fix sooner if you force the cache to clear.

So to be sure you aren’t seeing old information, you can “Clear your cache.” In more recent versions of browsers there are other things that also effect your experience. Browser providers have been adopting the term “Clearing your history.” for all of these things and they provide a Tool to do just that.

Here is how to clear your cache (history) for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari (Windows). If you don’t see menu options we reference like Tools (History for Safari) on the menu at the top of your browser, we can help you with 15 minutes of Live Support. See icon at the left or call if we are offline. We can give you a 15 minute lesson focused on using your browser that will make you much more productive.

Firefox:

Left click Tools | Clear Recent History
In the form that is displayed try Time Range of Last Hour. Check Cache and Clear Now.
Try visiting the page again or if you have the page still open in a tab or window, use the Refresh (icon with little green circling arrows.)

If that doesn’t fix your problem, you can try some of the other check boxes on the form. I find most frequently Active Logins, Offline Website Data, and Site Preferences do no harm to me, but your surfing habits might be different than mine.

Internet Explorer:

Left click Tools | Delete browsing history
On the form displayed make sure Preserve Favorites website data and Temporary Internet files.

If that doesn’t fix your problem, you can try some of the other check boxes on the form. I find History, Download History, and Active X Filtering and Tracking Protection data do no harm to me, but your surfing habits might be different than mine.

Safari (on Windows):

Left click History.
On the form, click Clear.

These instructions are for the most current version of these browsers (January 2013). If you have an older version… Live support. Let us help you get up to date.

Anne, Fix My Computer. The Page Doesn’t Look Right!

I hate to tell people that they need to change to fix a problem, but sometimes it’s the only answer I have. More and more I am finding the solution to rendering problems(techy for: the page doesn’t look or work right) in one browser is to try another browser. People don’t particularly like to change, I know that. Setting that aside, less often, but adding to the problem, I also find people don’t even know what a “browser” is. So when they call and I say, “Oh, that’s just Internet Explorer interpreting the code differently than the designer intended.”, I can almost see the “deer in the headlight” eyes through the phone. If I am not thinking… I further explain that the caller has not been using “Google” or “MSN” or “AOL”, as they refer to it, but a browser, an application called “Internet Explorer” or “Safari” for instance. At this point, I can tell headlights are growing brighter because their audible breathing pattern becomes irregular. That usually wakes me and I start from the beginning… But I digress… Those training situations are best handled one on one. If you know what a browser is, here is a little explanation why things don’t work in one, when they work in another and vise verse.

No matter how hard techies try to standardize interpretations for website code (cuz there is code behind what you see in a browser — you know that, right?), browser vendors have to create their products to act to the standard and make the screen and computer do what the website coder intended. The articulation of the standards is imperfect. Microsoft and Apple especially, frequently decide to translate the code one writes for a web page to the screen differently from each other but consistent with an interpretation (or misinterpretation) of a standard. They have a little advantage on the other guys because their browsers come with their operating systems, so they are of the opinion that their interpretation is right… I don’t want to get into any righteous arguments, just saying that this is how it works.

So if one writes a website correctly for Internet Explorer or Safari, it can work goofy in other browsers and vise verse making for a lot of complex coding and testing if one wants their design to look and act the same regardless of browser… which is what most users want… to pick their browser and use it without problems. Add all the different types of devices into this mix (device vendors have a role in interpreting standards for display) and you have complexity for the website designer that is a coding and testing nightmare. Complexity adds cost. Cost makes business people go ballistic on us poor designers,.. “How hard can it be to change a lousy picture!?!”, They say… and thus there is no one happy. Hmmm… this sounds familiar… Oh ya, democracy! Whoops digressing again.

What I think is happening, is website designers are opting to write for the 3rd party browsers and give MS and Apple the proverbial virtual middle finger. But it’s making users nuts. Because the solution when something doesn’t work in IE, or Safari, is try it in Firefox or Chrome. And do the inverse if you normally use Firefox or Chrome. I know you don’t like that answer, but it’s capitalism and democracy at it’s best (or worst depending on your perspective). If a page acts the same in all of the browsers but it doesn’t work, it might be a bug in the site as coded by the designer or on your computer, so possibly there is something I can do about it… Well, you still have the device drivers in there, but this is suppose to be a short explanation and I am pushing it already… So, let’s just say if a page acts different in different browsers and works in one, then likely there is not much I can do except tell you, “Use the one that works.”

So What is With All These Pop-ups I’m Getting?

Voluntary Illiterate, can just read the bold, but don’t blame me if you miss something important. That’s probably what got you here in the first place.

I almost hate to write this article since removing pop-ups has been pretty lucrative for me lately, but it’s getting real boring, so maybe if I tell you how to fix the easy ones, you can get on to causing more challenging problems on your computers.;-)

Every vendor delivering “free” software or updates is including in their download process something they consider “useful” that you don’t need and most of the time don’t want. This of course is a courtesy… Ya… right. They are getting paid for each download, so of course, they make these extras either inconspicuous or, worse, appear to be something that you need. Therefore, when downloading or loading from DVD, you need to read every screen that is presented to you looking for the actual name of the program that is being loaded. If it’s not the one you requested or there is a check box that agrees to loading something other than what you have requested, be careful. There is usually a check box or a “skip” action that you need to use so this garbage (not my first choice of words) doesn’t end up on your computer. The “skip” action might be hidden until you mouse over the right location on the screen. Even vendors that I have recommended for years are doing this. Your ever-helpful ISP (e.g., Time Warner, Frontier, …) are doing it with antivirus software. You do not need a McAfee product if you already have an antivirus application. Contrary to their suggestion, you don’t need tuning software either. If you are not sure, call and ask me.

My favorite!… Recently, I bought a Microsoft Office License from my favorite vendor and as a “bonus”, I was sold a game on my invoice . (It was actually more complicated than that. They deducted $40 from the price of Office and added the game for $40. They of course advertised the reduced price on Office. I am sure they are on commission with the game company.) I didn’t want the game. I didn’t need the game. But I couldn’t order the Office software at the reduced price without getting the download of a game. I couldn’t even order Office at the full price to avoid getting the game license. Really pissed me off and, yes they know now, that it pissed me off… At least they did not force me to actually download the game… Small consolation, I know.

Invariably, when you have loaded one of these handy extra programs, the symptom is usually a pop-up something. It is either a prompt to tune your computer when you have never had to tune your computer before or browser window for some more downloads or a shopping site. Sometimes it is the very dangerous “You are infected with a virus! Download XYZ and we will fix it.” Don’t click anything on that that prompt. It is wired to start downloading regardless of where you click… Even the X to close the window will trigger a download.

So the real defense against this activity is never to download anything… But as I said, even the legitimate vendors are doing things in update software… as a courtesy… so downloading is hard to avoid. I can’t emphasize enough… read the prompts carefully.

If you miss something, I do sometimes too, or you didn’t “check the box to not not get something”… Ya, watch those double negatives, here is what I have to do when you call and say, “So What is With All These Pop-ups I’m Getting?” If you are using Windows 7 or 8, then you can probably clean up a lot of them yourself without downloading a registry cleaner… Ya, that’s the first thing I want to do when I have been infected from a download program… I want to download another program… Not! If you are still on XP, the process is a little more complex, so you will have to keep calling me.

In Window 7 or 8, as soon as you get your first pop-up, do not do anything else… open your control panel. If you don’t know how to open your control panel, check back in a week. That will probably be next week’s top question. In control panel, Click Programs and Features. You should get something like the picture in Figure 2014.02.05.1.

Program List

Figure 2014.02.05.1

Read the instructions in red on the figure… Correction… do the instructions in red on the Figure.

This is where this will get a little tricky if you don’t know a lot about the programs you use. Uninstall the most recent programs as long as you don’t recognize the name. If you are unsure, call me. Usually these are programs above the Adobe programs. Adobe is constantly updating. If there are no programs above the Adobe programs… like you see in my Figure… Look just below. Maybe they have been loaded for a day or two and you didn’t notice. If nothing looks recent enough, then click the top of the name column to sort by name and start looking for “Toolbars” and “Search” programs. This can take a little more thinking, but if you like to live on the edge go for it.

Other than Google (and Norton if you have Norton Antivirus or McAfee if you use that), I uninstall everything that has Toolbar or Search in the name… Ask, Bing, Conduit (a really irritating one), Yahoo… everything that is not Google or Norton (McAfee). If you have Norton, then McAfee needs to be eliminated too. Norton and McAfee do not like each other. Adobe has been installing McAfee with it’s updates… You don’t need it if you have Norton… Adobe doesn’t care.

If you get rid of all Toolbar and Search programs, then your computer is going to surf much smoother. If the pop-up is still bugging you, then you will have to pay me… I will warn you that Conduit also changes setting in your browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Chrome.) If you find Conduit on your PC, you will likely need to reset all of your setting in your browsers to completely eliminate all the damage it has done. If you don’t know how to do that and you don’t want to pay me to fix it, check back in a few weeks. I will probably be bored with that fix too;-)