A few years ago, one of the
most annoying features on Internet websites was blinking text. Then came
dancing animals. And frames which left you confused as to what you were
looking at or what you were bookmarking.
Today, savvy web page designers have raised the annoyance bar and can
leave you trapped in their website. This is a particular favorite of some
adult and pornography designers.
You’ll get an innocuous, generic e-mail message with a link to the website,
and when you click the link and find yourself on the home page of a pornographic
site, you find you’re unable to leave the pages. The first time this happens,
it’s scary, for it seems like the pornographer has reached across the Internet
and seized control of your computer.
What’s actually happened is that the page contains a script that directs
the browser to continue opening pages when you try to close the window.
If you have a slow dial-up connection, you can try to close the windows.
On some occasions, I’ve been able to escape a trap by using the Go/Goto
or history option in my browser. Otherwise you may have to shut your browser
down to kill the action. Using the File|Exit command usually
does the trick (or try the keyboard shortcut, Alt+F4).
If it doesn’t, use the Ctrl-Alt-Del key combination to
bring up your Windows task dialog box. Select the Netscape task and click
the End Task button.
Another annoyance is rather simple to handle. Many sites use pop-up
Netscape windows to advertise products, newsletter subscriptions, or services.
This can be managed by simply closing the pop-up window. However, there
may be a sequence of pop-up windows that open. If I find a site too annoying
with its pop-up windows, I just avoid the site and look for another that
meets my need. Sometimes depending on pop-ups to spread your message can
be risky. Several months ago, a long-waited shopping site was panned by
Internet critics because of its numerous pop-up windows.
Some web designers like to control the visitor’s connection to outside
sources, so they use two tricks: opening a new, controlled browser window
or viewing the outside material within frames.
If you click a link which opens a new browser window, closing that new
window will return you to previously active window. Many times, however,
a user won’t realize a new window has opened until he or she tries to use
the back button and sees that it is grayed-out. Use the taskbar in Windows
95 or 98 operating systems to keep track of open windows and close the
ones that aren’t necessary. The open new window is useful when you want
to keep a static window (like results or an auction closing) but continue
to surf the net.
I like the technique used by Barbar Mikkelson in her San
Fernando Valley Urban Legends pages. In her older legends pages, she
coded the link to an outside source which opened a new browser window that
contained no menu or toolbar. When you finished reading the message, you
clicked the X button in the upper right hand corner to close the window
and then returned the window with Mikkelson’s web pages.
But what if you want to reference a link and return to it later? Well,
you could look at the page source code and try to find the link reference
in the HTML code. An easier way is to right-click the mouse when you are
in the abbreviated window and choose Add Bookmark or View Info from the
Netscape shortcut menu. View Info will list the page and image URLs. In
Internet Explorer, use Properties from the shortcut menu.
What if you’re viewing a page that uses frames? You can use the shortcut
(right-click) menu again to bookmark or view info on the frame.
When I’m fighting a web designers’ control of the framed material,
I will often use “Open frame in new window” from the shortcut menu. Another
feature I find useful when determining if a page has frames (in Netscape—sorry,
I don’t use Internet Explorer enough to find this feature in their browser)
is to click the file menu and see if the menu options include Save. . .
Send. . . or Print this Frame.
||If you are trying to print or bookmark information
that is viewed in a frame, make sure you have clicked on the frame before
selecting the option. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to print
a frame and ending up with the table of contents frame or bookmark
Here’s a little trick for viewing images in Netscape. Have you ever
wanted a closer look at an image? You can use View Image from the shortcut
menu to open the image in a new browser window. I find this technique helpful
when I’m looking at pages with broken picture links. This seems to be a
common problem on auction sites. But even though the link is broken on
the main auction page, I can usually right-click the link, select View
image, and see the image in a new window.
browser, but you want to reopen and try to resume where you left off? Open
the browser and use the history file to resume your surfing (avoid the
last — or first — entry in the history. . .that’s usually the one that
caused your browser to crash or forced you to close). You can practice
this, by visiting TJ Web Sites
and testing some of its browser and window tricks.
And speaking of history files, they’re a good source for finding files
you forgot to bookmark. You can set your browser options to save history
files for a certain period, or you can also open the history file and delete
all the entries. I dunno, if someone spent in my household spent a few
hours on the computer and I noticed the history file was empty, I might
be a little suspicious. On the other hand, if I don’t want my husband to
notice that I’ve spent a lot of time on Ebay looking at auctions for Beanie
Babies, I may be tempted to clear the history cache myself.
||If you are trying to cover your tracks, you can
selectively delete entries from the history file. But don’t forget to erase
or clear the file and location bar caches.
The location bar, or URL field, records your keystrokes when typing
in web addresses. It then “quickfills” the address the next time you begin
typing the URL. I use this technique when checking pages on the company
website as a quick way to get a page without having a voluminous bookmark
One final annoyance is one encountered with the Netscape Messenger window.
I understand the need to promote items through its e-mail Preview Pane
(on start-up), but their promotions are a real pain in a controlled corporate
environment. Too many times I’ve had users think the directive to upgrade
“Netscape Communicator Now!” or try the newest version of RealAudio is
coming from the IT department. If the start-up page referenced in the preview
pane annoys you too, you can change your preferences script to reflect
a different or blank webpage. You can find the steps to edit this file
in Netscape’s knowledge base or e-mail me at [email@example.com] for the
instructions. There are some tricks to this, so the exercise is not for
the novice user.
So now, you’ve learned how to deal with HTML annoyances…Go take on the