Best way to escape trap is to start over

HELP LINE

Helpline

March 25, 2004|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I go to Web sites and I get trapped. The back arrow on my browser and the backspace key on the computer are disabled. I can't escape!

I don't care how they do it; just tell me how to get out of there.

The weakness lies in part with the Java programming language that lets Web site authors embed hidden text on various pages. The language can contain commands to handle much of what makes a browser perform those bells and whistles, such as animation and filling out forms.

The language also contains commands that let a boorish code writer set things up so that every time a user clicks the back arrow, the browser simply redisplays that same page.

With slight variations, this trick can also cause those nightmares when you click on an address and multiple pages suddenly pop up all over the screen, something just about every Web user has endured.

The ultimate solution is to hold down the Alt key and tap the F4 key to shut the page or pages down and start over.

Sometimes it is possible to use the History tool built into the Web browser to go back a few pages and find the place that sent you to be trapped. This doesn't always work satisfactorily, however.

Another, even less satisfactory way to move back to before you got trapped is to click on the browser's address bar, where there will be a list of the major jumping-off points for that session. It's usually more effort than it's worth to try to get back on track, however, and the best fix is to just close the browser and fire it up to start over.

The ultimate fix is segregation.

If you want to keep one of these trap sites from tricking you again, just highlight the address at the top of the browser and tap Control plus C to copy it. Now click on Tools and Internet Options, then select the tab called Content.

Select Enable in the first box on the Content menu and you will get a command called Approved Sites. Now use Control plus V to paste the address in the supplied box. This lets you click a box to never allow that page to display again.

It's a lot of trouble, but it does solve your problem.

You can find details about the rogue Web page programming commands called "onLoad" and "replay" that let creeps trap browsers at this delightful site: http://computer.howstuffworks .com/question249.htm.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. Contact James Coates at jcoates@tribune.com.

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