Compensating for Browser Idiosyncrasies
Coping With Unreadable Web Pages, and the Scourge of AOL

If you are having difficulty with the black background and the text colors of the Qabala site, here are some ideas about how to work around it. This page is adapted from a page from another site. The notion of changing the whole Qabala site or making an alternate version is way too daunting.

Bad Colors

To the right is an example of unfortunate color selection. There is not enough contrast for the eyes to grab onto. (TOO MUCH contrast can also be a problem. See below.)

Selecting Text

The solution is simple. Put the mouse arrow over the text, in the upper left corner, click-hold, and drag the mouse diagonally over the text to the bottom right. You will see it selected, and simple to read. This works with any color combination.


Light travels 186,000 miles in one second. We are 93 Million miles from our sun; it takes light from the sun eight minutes (480 seconds) to reach us. In one hour, light travels about 744 million miles. There are 8,760 hours in one year - a 'Light Year' is about 6 trillion miles. The nearest star to our sun is four light years away. Our galaxy is about 160,000 light years in diameter, and about 2000 light years thick. We are located near the outer edge, on an inner spiral arm. There are approximately 100,000 million stars in our galaxy, and about the same number of galaxies that we have been able to observe. With "Gravitational Lensing," we have been able to observe galaxies some 20 billion light years distant. We have learned, for instance, that space is far from empty. The gaps between the stars are punctuated by clouds composed largely of gas and dust, which occur in the ratio of about a hundred to one...

Tiny Text

To the right is an example some small text, and another difficult color selection. There are several ways to approach the text issue. The simplest is this: Netscape (only) allows you to adjust the fonts with a keystroke. Just push "ctrl ]" (control key, right bracket), and it ups the font size one level. You can take it up many levels, and down also, by clicking "ctrl [" (control key, left bracket).

Another way to adjust the fonts is to go into your browser's preferences dialog and change the numbers.

Still another approach is to change your monitor's resolution. (Left click the desktop, go to properties, settings, and use the slider). For an excellent primer on monitor calibration, click Here.


The goal of all advertising is discontent or, to put it another way, an internal scarcity of contentment. This must be continually created, even at the moment when someone has finally bought something. In that event, advertising has the task of creating discontent with what has just been bought, since once that act is completed, the purchase has no further benefit to the market system. The newly purchased commodity must be gotten rid of and replaced by the 'need' for a new commodity as soon as possible. The ideal world for advertisers would be one in which whatever is bought is used only once and then tossed aside. Many new products have been designed to fit such a world.

Printing from the Web

For many reasons, just choosing "file, print," or hitting "ctrl p" does not work for printing some webpages. Pages with frames, like the Qabala pages, require some extra steps to print.

To print just PART of a page, first select the text (see "colors" above). Then copy it (see copy/paste below), and paste it into a text editor - any will do - Notepad, Wordpad, MSWord, etc. Then print it from that application. This also works for weird colors. You will lose formatting, and the images won't work right. Another option is to left click on the frame, select 'view in new window', and print it that way.

Some websites, due to the marvelous "parallel information presentation" nature of HTML, sites that use frames, animations, and image maps, cannot be reproduced in printed form. So there, Clifford Stoll.


The Miracle of Copy/Paste

One of the simplest and most vitally important features of a computer is the clipboard, yet many users are unfamiliar with it. Two simple keystrokes have saved this web developer countless hours of tapping, tapping, tapping.


The clipboard is like a "rubber stamp," allowing the user to clone something, and deposit the copy in another location. The computer will copy any selected data, text, graphic, or otherwise. The process is simple.

With whatever you want to copy selected (see colors, above), type "ctrl c", or choose "Edit, Copy," from the toolbar above. You won't see any changes, but it's done. Now go to the application, say MSWord that you want to put the material into. Put the (blinking) cursor where you want to put it, and type "ctrl v", or choose "Edit, Paste."

This is also a great typo/timesaver when it comes to web addresses.


Especially for AOL users

The America Online browser and connection facility have several serious shortcomings that greatly reduce the quality of the Internet experience for its users.

Their proxy server system, which allows them to monitor what people look at, stores graphics in a different way than the Internet standard. In the AOL browser, pictures and backgrounds are blurred, "aliased," blotchy, degraded, or have black lines through them.

Another problem with graphics is that since their machines are cache-ing your files, it makes it more difficult for you to refresh them - so if content changes on a page, you might not know about it until AOL is ready to purge their backups. There is a way to suppress the AOL graphics compression, but its really deep in the preference menus and hard to ferret out.

The AOL browser does not recognize "meta tags," which means that you will get more dead links. Web developers often use "meta tags" to refer users to changed addresses, which will not work for AOL users.

The AOL browser is very "brittle" when it comes to sloppy coding. ANY mistakes will reduce a page's formatting to junk. Microsoft Explorer is almost as fussy, and Netscape is the most forgiving.

Web developers who are concerned about what their pages look like in the AOL browser have to have a computer DEDICATED to AOL in order to preview their pages, because AOL makes it very difficult to work offline with their browser. [If anyone knows a way around this, please let me know].

AOL mail handling is user hostile - lost messages are commonplace. With AOL, your inbox has a limit to the number of messages it can hold. Messages that arrive once it is full are simply deleted - you never get it. The sender is denied the courtesy of a returned mail, and neither party benefits. And, since AOL sells your address to every junkmailer it can find, you get tons of junk mail in your inbox, filling it up, and blocking communication with your friends and business associates.

AOL has wonderful ways to play cards, chess, all sorts of games and chat features. What AOL has is a trifle compared to what can be done on the Internet, with any browser, Netscape (now an AOL product!), Explorer, Opera, or other software. With the other browsers, the periphery of your screen is not filled up with loud advertising and un-customize-able buttons.

It is possible to run another browser, such as Explorer, while dialed in with the AOL connection, and I'm told it looks fine.

New users love the "You've got Mail!" voice. The fact is, you can put any sound you like anywhere you want in your system, and it's not, as AOL would have you believe, a unique feature of theirs. AOL capitalizes on people's lack of experience, rather than empowering people to control their own destiny.

For more about the dark side of AOL, Click Here.