Computer Topics

Some Items Invisible in Web Pages in Windows Internet Explorer

Obsolescence article below updated Jan. 19, 2015  and July 7, 2015

Photo Orientation Problems, new May 25, 2015


 I found a setting in my Internet Explorer 7, 8, and more recent versions that fixes invisibility.

 Anyone using Internet Explorer who cannot see the words or links across the top of a web page should do the following:

Click Tools, then General Tab, then Accessibility Button.

There will be 4 check boxes. All of them should be UNCHECKED when looking at most web page content.

They are: Ignore Colors Specified On Web Pages - the only one I had checked and it caused the problem.


              Ignore Font Styles Specified On Web Pages       

              Ignore Font Sizes Specified On Web Pages        

              Format Documents Using My Style Sheet

That first item usually only affects the color of fonts on web pages, and usually Internet Explorer makes all fonts black at that setting. But on some web pages, it made certain fonts invisible, and it even made some thumbnails invisible, especially in iWeb pages. Probably due to somewhat incompatible code. It may be checked by default in Internet Explorer. It is becoming more common for web pages to use background colors for certain emphasized text. To see that, you will need to leave Ignore Colors unchecked.

You will need to restore the Ignore Colors check when done with web sites in order to have a color change for visited links in many web pages. This depends on the code in the pages you visit. Some pages do not specify a color change for a clicked link. On my computer, all visited links will change color when "Ignore Colors..." is checked. Also, in Internet Explorer, Under Tools, General, Colors, you must have "Use Windows Colors" checked, or have different colors set for "Visited" and "Unvisited."

The reason I had "Ignore Colors" checked was to get text rendered as black instead of gray. I will be checking to see if the gray text color is caused by the originating web page or by Internet Explorer, and which version of the latter. I have Safari and Firefox on different computers. (Text that is very small will often be rendered in gray unless you increase the viewing size.)


File and Hardware Obsolescence Updated 7-7-2015

System hardware and software (OS) are changing more frequently than ever in both the Windows and Mac worlds. This means that your files could become unreadable even if backed up on CDs, DVDs, flash drives, or hard drives. This is the subject of an article in The World Book Science Year 2013. These remarks relate mostly to my experience; the encyclopedia article covers a more general aspect. There is no perfect solution to the obsolescence problem, as the article notes.

In particular, I have found it necessary to keep older computers in order to run older scanners. The change to 64-bit in newer systems made older peripherals impossible to use with their original driver software. Newer drivers, written by third parties, are often inferior or unsatisfactory. I have not seen manufacturers keep writing older hardware drivers for long. I have also had this experience with flash (thumb) drives. Some manufacturers have abandoned the consumer portion of their business and only manufacture products for business customers. Others are in bankruptcy or out of business.

Why am I using older peripherals? It takes time to become good at using them. Same with software. Every time you change hardware and software, you have to reinvent the wheel. In some cases, newer peripherals are faster, though.

You will need to move your work files to newer and preferably more universal formats. The popular .pdf format has a special version called .pdf/A or archive version. Also there is a format called Rich Text. Extra data is stored with these formats somewhat like the Rosetta Stone so that they can be deciphered in the future when their parent programs no longer exist. Some current programs can use the formatting information saved with Rich Text.

Many mainstream programs have had frequent format changes over the years. An example is the most popular word processing program. Each new version gradually drops compatibility for reading work files from older versions. You may be able to get compatibility plug-ins on their web sites but this is not assured.

I have found that using backup programs on a given computer is a good idea. However, the backup program is often also hardware or system software (OS) specific. This means that when you start using a new computer, it may not be able to run the backup software from the previous computer to retrieve or move your work files, which are often in a custom backup format. So what I have done is to make straight file copies, with Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder, to media such as DVD+Rs or DVD-Rs. This results in read-only files, but it is easy to make them possible to write to once they are on another hard drive.

Recently, very fast external USB hard drives have become available, and I am using one. However, one should consider hard drives fragile and failure-prone. They may work for years, but failure can be sudden and total, so I would continue using CDs and DVDs also. Flash  "thumb" drives are ok but they deteriorate with use.

I use original software CDs or DVDs as the backup for my programs and system software. Updates lost in this way can be reapplied from the discs or companies' web sites. Backing up entire hard drives can be a chore unless you use an external hard drive and follow its instructions. Make sure such a drive can be run from all your older computers, or use  DVD+ or -Rs in them. I believe that these discs will last at least 10 years if reasonable physical care is given to them. I have CD-Rs up to 15 years old that are still readable. However, I would still copy them every 10 years if you think you may really need the data from them. They are claimed to last possibly 100 years but this is engineers' guesses.

It's important to keep older computers off the Internet when their system software is no longer supported for security updates. Usually, soon after, the leading antivirus software producers end their production of software for older computers. Old computers can run software that no longer runs on newer computers. An example is a wonderful planetarium and astronomy program I bought about 20 years ago that runs in MS-DOS. On newer computers, emulation programs can get a newer computer to run an old program, but are not as good as using the older software and hardware. There can be incorrect speed, sound glitches, and errors rendering some images.

To get the most life out of your older computers and peripherals, as well as newer ones, keep the room temperature as low as possible, keep brightness down on monitors, use surge and spike protectors on the power connection, and avoid turning them on and off frequently. However, I would not leave a computer on more than an hour needlessly.

Photo Orientation (Rotation) Problems

New article 5-25-2015 - Updated 6-4-2015 Minor correction 7-7-2015

I regret that on this web site, there were some photos that displayed sideways on Macs and iPhones, in Safari. Also, I learned from a Microsoft web page, that users of Internet Explorer in Windows 8.1 may also have had this problem. I worked to identify all problem photos here and orient them so they display right side up in all systems. A partial technical explanation continues below.

Actually, all of the above systems are rendering photos to the correct standards. In Windows 7, and earlier, camera orientation information in .jpg photo files could be ignored when the photo was rotated with many Windows photo editing programs. My Nikon and Canon cameras both have auto-rotate disabled, up to now, so that whenever I turn the camera vertically, the camera still marks the top long side of the photo as the top. As I understand it, this is in the EXIF photo data.

As best I understand it now, Windows 7 and earlier ignore the EXIF data, and look at the "metadata" or the actual photo image data (bitmap) for orientation. So when I rotate a photo with my Windows-based photo editor, the rotation is recognized in all Windows 7 and earlier versions with Internet Explorer. So I never noticed a problem until I began looking at some of the photos with a Mac and the Safari web browser.

It seems the problem will be fixed when I change my 2 digital camera settings to auto-rotate. It seems so far that photos originated and rotated by my slide, negative, and print scanners do not have this problem.

6-2-2015 - I have  found a way to correct the existing photos here that have problems. I simply put them in my Mac, rotate them in Preview, save them, and upload them to the correct pages here. This makes the photos display right side up in my Windows and Mac computers. All of the problem photos were corrected as of early today.

6-4-2015 - Some photo icons (thumbnails) are displaying sideways in Safari in Harriet's iPhone 4S. These might be tricky to deal with as they all display upright in Windows Internet Explorer and Mac Safari. All photos display ok, though.

6-8-2015 - I was also able to rotate the sideways thumbnails in Mac Preview. They now display correctly in the iPhone 4S and Mac Safari, and Internet Explorer in Windows 7. Interestingly they were sideways not only in the phone, but also in Mac Preview, but not Mac Safari.

8-30-2015 - Photos from iPhones imported into my Mac often appear upright, but will appear sideways if moved to a Windows 7 or earlier PC. The solution is to rotate all upright iPhone pics 360 degrees to upright again, in Preview, and save. Then they are fine no matter where they are used.

If any still display sideways now, click View, Refresh or Reload Page in your web browser. In the iPhone, there is only the circular arrow on the URL (web address) line for Refresh. To save reload time and data charges, the iPhone seems to hold old web pages in memory longer than the default settings in most computer web browsers.  If you still see sideways or upside-down photos after the refresh, please email me.

You will likely see a test page for camera settings, on this web site, later in 2015. I will share my results and recommendations when I am done testing my 2 digital cameras and 2 phone cameras.

Lastly, I will see if I can correct orientation problems in the common short videos taken with phones.

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