50 Fixes, Facts & Finds: 1

Kurt von Behrmann
When technology works, life is great. Unfortunately, things go wrong. This is particularly true with the Internet. With so many programs and configurations, malfunctions are inevitable. Sometimes there are simple solutions—like switching to a different program – but other problems require a bit more tinkering. Although not an exhaustive list of the difficulties, annoyances and problems encountered in Cyberspace, this list touches on some of the solutions and preventative steps that can keep your Net experience from becoming a Net nightmare:


1. No one likes the pop-up ads, banner ads and pop-unders. Panicware produces software to combat the problem for both Mac and Windows users.

2. Spy Sweep from Webroot can find spyware and other intruders that snoop on your surfing habits. Plus, it comes with a bevy of extra features. For an excellent free solution, try Spybot S&D.

3. Do you want tabbed browsing, built-in pop-up blockers, and a download manager, all for free?'s Firefox .9 is a respectable alternative to Internet Explorer. While it may not replace IE 6, it's sturdy and swift.

4. Considering the issues some Mac user have had with Safari (and there seem to be more than a few) Mozilla has come up with a decent alternative with Camino. A free option that is feature rich and lightening fast, this affords Mac users what could be the best alternative browser yet.

5. Frequent crashing has plagued some Mac users running Apple's own Safari browser. Deleting the contents of the icon folder has proven effective at ending crashes. It has been shown to speed up browsing on some systems and end error messages on others.

6. Disabling the AutoFill feature could remedy Safari's freezes and slow response time. For some users this solution has actually improved performance. For others it has ended the dreaded spinning beach ball from popping up so often.

7. A number of problems, including slow browsing, can be cured by periodically clearing out the cookies, cache and other temp files in your browser. Netscape, Internet Explorer and others seem to benefit from the occasional deck clearing. There are reports that some error messages and download problems go away when these files are deleted.

8. If you've had trouble making online transactions, viewing sites, or you get the “HTTP 500 internal server error” message on secure sites, try downloading IE 6 Service Pack One from Microsoft. It's always good to stay up to date with IE, but make sure you back up just in case.

9. If the Opera browser is not allowing you to access certain sites, enable Automatic Redirection and Referrer Logging in the Tools, Preferences and Privacy section. Also, disabling Use Cookies to trace password protected pages, and setting the browser to accept normal and third party cookies, could do the trick and let you see what you have been missing.

10. Having trouble with the Flash plug-in for Firefox? When you install Macromedia's plug-in, you must specify the directory where it is to be installed. Locate the directory for Firefox and then the sub-directory “Plugins” to install the Flash plug-in properly.

11. Seeking a free RSS (Really Simple Syndication) program that can run headlines across your computer screen? Newsplorer's fully skinnable news reader, which comes with free adware and spyware, not only supports an unlimited number of news feeds, it supports windows 95, 98, ME, as well as XP and NT.

12. If you are missing text when printing a web page from IE 6, highlight the text you want, and then click File and Print. In the print windows, choose Selection and only your selected text will print. No more truncated text, lost text or other odd printing problems.

13. If you are using older versions of AOL software, you can delete them. Instead of installing on top of existing versions of the program, AOL installs separately each time. Just use Windows' Add and Remove utility to remove the obsolete ones. Do check to make sure the new one works before you do.

14. Are you tired of opening a new window in IE only to find it half the size of the original? If so, download IE New Window Maximizer at You can run it manually or automatically.

15. AutoComplete, the feature that completes forms, is a time saver — but if you share your PC, or use a public one, you may not want that information available. You can change this option easily. In IE click Tools, then Internet Options, Content, and Auto Complete. Clear all of the boxes under “Use AutoComplete for”.

16. Looking for more tabbed functions in Firefox? Installing tabbed browser extensions adds a number of very useful features for more versatile tabbed surfing. Once you surf with tabbed browsers, you may not want to go back.

Email Clients

17. Entourage 2004, Microsoft's Mac version of Outlook 2003, has been known to have a few annoying problems. The University of Iowa has a great site that addresses these concerns and complaints. They also tell you when you need to give it up and try another program.

18. Outlook 2003 has a built in spam filter, but Polesoft's Lockspam Two, a plug-in for Outlook, offers added features. Symantec's AntiSpam 2004 is a solid solution that works with Outlook and others. Be on the look out for the new Lockspam 3. This one offers support for other email clients.

19. Having trouble sending email from MSN Hotmail out of Outlook Express? If so, the problem may not be at your end. Instead, try emailing from your browser. Hotmail sent from Outlook is known to be slow.

20. If you cannot print multiple pages in plain text format in Outlook 2003, or you are offered very limited printing options, try changing the format to HTML. This alteration in format should permit you to print any number of pages the way you like.

21. If you use Outlook and the text size in IE spontaneously changes, go to Outlook and select Tools, Options and Mail Format. Under Stationary and Fonts, click Fonts and then select International Fonts. Select the font you want in IE, set it as the default font, and then click OK three times.

22. By default, Outlook Express 6 automatically filters all of your attachments. To stop that from happening, click on Tools, Options, and then the Security tab. Uncheck “Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potential be a virus”, and you can open all attachments.

23. Yahoo's free online email has had growing pains due to their recent expansion of storage space — so you may experience slow downloads or stalling. But before calling Yahoo! customer service in a huff, log off and log on again to see if the problem is fixed.

24. Unless you have Works or MS Office, spell checking is not available in Outlook Express. However, there is a free solution you'll find here that gives you this feature.

Stay tuned for tips on Instant Messaging, media applications, and more!