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Doug's Mailbag: Glitches (and Fixes) Galore

Doug's been having IE 8 issues since he upgraded to Windows 7. Luckily, a couple of you were quick to respond with some tips:

IE 8...I can't tell you the number of small annoyances. Lately, it's a new tab taking seven to 10 seconds to appear. Think it's the Java plug-in. But it's always something. It seems like these days, if you find a site working well in a particular browser -- Safari, IE, Chrome or Opera -- just stick with that browser-site combination.

Rule of thumb for IE problems is to start it in no-add-on mode and see if the problem still occurs. IE problems are almost always add-ons, so if it works as expected in that mode, you can disable/enable using the 50 percent rule until you figure out the cause. Also not a bad idea to make sure you're on current versions of Flash and Java.

I never had problems with IE 8 until I got a new Windows 7, 64-bit computer and switched to IE 8 64-bit. I started having problems with freezing while loading Web pages or being unable to click the back arrow. After about a week of this, I suddenly got a Windows update that restarted my computer, and IE 8 64-bit has been fine ever since. I think that they must have downloaded a patch that fixed my problems. It might have been the following:

Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB976749)
Installation date: 11/5/2009 4:58 PM
Installation status: Successful
Update type: Important
Install this update to resolve issues that may occur after installing the Internet Explorer cumulative security update issued as MS09-054. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.


The problem stems from doing an upgrade from Vista to Windows 7, and is not an IE 8 or Windows 7 issue, per se. I had this problem with one of my workstations in which I did an upgrade from Vista x64 ENT to Windows 7 x64 ENT. I also experienced a few other problems such as not being able to access some Web sites using https (one of them being the Microsoft eOpen site). I did not experience these problems with my laptops in which I did a fresh install. So I then backed up my workstation's data, wiped the partitions and did a fresh install. The problem went away and has not resurfaced.

The problem may stem from some browser plug-ins that have built up over time. My suggestion: Back up all your data and do a fresh install and restore all your data and settings. The process may be a little unappealing at first, but you will have a faster, more stable system. Which, in my opinion, is worth it.

But even aside from these IE 8 glitches, Windows 7 is still not everyone's dream OS:

You recently suggested that people will eventually see the benefits of Windows 7 and forget all about XP mainly because of the extra security. I beg to disagree. I enjoy the secure features of any new MS product, but I do not appreciate the new look and feel of both Vista and now the "new Vista" -- Windows 7. I do not want to read a novel just to determine which 'paragraph' to click to adjust different features of screen resolution. Although it would be nice to have easy-to-find features, where the heck are the IP settings and NIC speed tabs? How many links do I have to click to find screen resolution, desktop settings, screensavers, etc.? Why do Windows Explorer folders look like all my files are about to spill out onto the floor? I thought I was supposed to be organizing my stuff? And by the way -- what was up with the green folders in Vista? Did someone visit the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland? Or is green the favorite color of the new outsourced coding team?

OK, there. I've vented. In short, XP had a nice look and feel. Vista and Windows 7 look like a carnival ride with enough verbiage to fill the New York Library. Knock it off, you bored programmers at Microsoft! I want my simple tabs back!

I'm also having problems with Windows 7, starting with Windows Explorer. I use that application tons and was disappointed to see that Windows 7 has some of the same annoyances as Vista. When clicking the arrow to expand a folder, it refreshes the screen and drops the folder list down to the bottom of the page so that if you click through several folders to drill down, you have to keep scrolling down to see the new folders. Also, what happened to the total at the bottom of the window that shows how much data is in the selected folder?

As for Aero, the whole preview thing where you put your mouse over the taskbar items and it shows a mini window is quite annoying. It pops up whenever I get close to the bottom of the screen and don't intend to, and I'm very annoyed with it. I've read up on how to disable it but have found that anything I try only works for a few days and it magically starts working again, much to my frustration. I also do not like the transparent tops of windows. I find myself constantly clicking the wrong window when I try to grab a specific one and move it. Haven't figured out yet if there's a way to change that.

As for XP, Doug's been having problems with that, too, particularly with slowness. Here are some diagnoses and suggestions:

You are probably installing/uninstalling all sorts of different apps on your system. Most of us use a few apps and build up the junk that slows you up over several years.

Check the size of your registry file after a year. Over time, this thing becomes monolithic, and every program start-up has to read the monster for something -- another example of technology redefining a problem rather than solving it. This is one of the reasons not to jump on every upgrade to every software package you are running. None of those installers cleans up very well.

The other problem I have found is fragmented page files. There are some third-party tools to fix this but it is just as easy to recreate it. You will find that Windows 7 is probably no better since it follows the same development model. That is my two cents. That and a dollar will buy you a mediocre cup of coffee.

And finally, here are more of your thoughts on Microsoft's recent move to lay off 800 positions:

Gee, I wonder if they cut the H-1B Visa workers first. (Yeah, right!)

Anybody that thinks layoffs in pursuit of profits is OK is the biggest capitalist douchebag there is. These are people's lives they are dealing with -- not just the person that lost their job but their spouse and their kids, as well.

We recently lost a friend to suicide because of this. Her husband had had a heart attack a few years ago and was underemployed (he worked but nothing too strenuous) so she was also working some crappy job. Nothing great but they were getting the bills paid (mostly). Then because the company she worked for wasn't making enough profit, she lost her job. As the bills piled up she just lost hope and committed suicide. So anybody that thinks this is OK needs to have something like that happen to them and then tell me if it is still OK.

Join the fray! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on 11/18/2009 at 1:17 PM


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