Troubleshooting on the Internet

While "surfing" the Internet can be a whole lot of fun, it can be frustrating as well! You may encounter out-of-date links, error messages, slow connections, and other problems that can stop you dead in your tracks. These irritations can stem from system overloads, computer and network downtimes, and problems with programs and applications. Browsers have different capabilities, and, as a result, Web sites may operate differently when viewed on Netscape than when viewed on Internet Explorer. At t

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS

While "surfing" the Internet can be a whole lot of fun, it can be frustrating as well! You may encounter out-of-date links, error messages, slow connections, and other problems that can stop you dead in your tracks. These irritations can stem from system overloads, computer and network downtimes, and problems with programs and applications. Browsers have different capabilities, and, as a result, Web sites may operate differently when viewed on Netscape than when viewed on Internet Explorer. At times, one computer will see and hear something completely different from the machine next to it. Remember: this is all new technology that is changing on a daily basis. Be patient ... most things can be explained and corrected if you take the time to understand what`s going on.

Two common error messages that you may encounter are "connection refused by server" and "unable to locate server." If you get the "connection refused by server" message, this means that the site is too busy or the network is overloaded. The only way to get around this message is to revisit that site again. You can retry immediately or wait a few minutes to see if the problem is taken care of. If you get the "unable to locate server" message, this can be more difficult to interpret. Most of the time, this message appears on a site when the server is temporarily down or the network is experiencing technical difficulties. It may also mean that the site has been discontinued or has moved without a forwarding address. Web pages come and go. You need to update your links or favorite places list periodically to account for this. Do not give up on these sites too quickly. Try connecting with them a few times over a week or two to be sure that the sites no longer exist.

When you are typing in a URL address, make sure that you have not made any typographical errors or any other mistakes. You can try to "tweak" the address to see if it helps. Some ways to do this are:

1) Try changing capital letters to small letters or small letters to capital letters.

2) Try shortening the URL. Remove everything past the first slash - i.e., instead of typing in "//www.dfdasmiles .com/emergency.html," you might try "//www.dfdasmiles.com." This is a way to backtrack to the index or default page. You can move around the site from there.

Do you ever get tired and annoyed waiting for files to download onto your computer? Dipstick is a program that will allow you to choose between download servers when options are given. You will be able to drag the download links to the Dipstick window, and it will point out which server has the least traffic and the fewest "pocket losses." This can prove to be very handy for those who, like me, get very impatient with slow-speed file transfers. Go to www.klever.net/kin/dipstick .html to get this program.

Are you having trouble when searching for information using the many search engines out there? Sometimes, your search turns up no results; at other times, you get far too many links to pursue. Here are some tips that may come in handy during those exasperating times:

1) Check spelling

2) Use multiple-word searches to get more refined results than if you used a single word

3) Use appropriate capitalization

4) Use quotation marks to find words that must appear adjacent to each other

5) Use plus (+) or minus (-) signs to include or exclude subjects

6) Use commas to separate names

7) Use the pipe sign, | , located under your backspace key, to refine searches in one step. It will narrow your search to a specific subject within the context of a broader one; i.e., dance|tango

8) Use > sign to do the same thing; i.e., dogs>golden retriever

9) Use "link:" to find all pages that have links that contain your search word

10) Use "site:" to find all pages within a certain site

11) Use "url:" to find pages that contain your search term in their URL addresses

12) Use "title:" to find pages that contain a specific word or phrase in their page titles

13) Use "alt:" to find pages that contain a specific word in the picture label

Remember: if you have a problem that does not go away, don`t get upset. Ask a friend or someone in the support department of your Internet Service Provider for help. Others probably have experienced the same dilemma at one time or another and will know exactly what to do.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesperson and critical-issue-response-team chairperson for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. He can be reached at jdteeth@inlink.com or by phone, (314) 567-5612; or fax: (314) 567-9047.

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