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  1. #1
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    Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all service releases)

    This may not be the correct place to ask, but here goes. As of about three weeks ago I can no longer access the web site of a professional organization I belong to. It is not, as far as I can tell, a browser issue; Firefox, I.E., Netscape all come up with a site not found error. This is an issue specific to this one computer. I can access it from my laptop, from my computer at work. The address is correct. It doesn't matter if I type it, access it via a bookmark that USED to work, from a link. Server not found. I've run spyware programs to no avail, have even tried a system restore from a time when it did work. I do not run a software firewall, I use the one in the router. As near as I can tell, it's only this one web site, and it's only on THIS machine. My anti-virus program (Norton) doesn't indicate anything as far as I can tell, either.

    I'm guessing there's some weird setting somewhere, but I haven't a clue where to look. Anyone have any ideas? Fortunately it's a nuisance rather than a problem, but I'd just as soon solve it.

    Thanks!

    Jo Byrd

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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all service releases)

    Have you checked your hosts file? It is in "C:windowssystem32driversetchosts" Note no extension and it is a text file you can open with Notepad.

    BTW, I'd strongly suggest that you run a software firewall. The Windows XP firewall is not sufficient as it does not monitor outbound access. In addition to the <img src=/S/free.gif border=0 alt=free width=30 height=15> version of the well known ZoneAlarm by Check Point, see Scot’s Newsletter Blog » Blog Archive » Firewalls for Windows Approaching Fruition for more information.

    Joe
    Joe

  3. #3
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    I checked the hosts file, Joe; didn't see anything in there one way or another to indicate an issue. I've had at least three different tech support people tell me I don't need an additional software firewall, which is why I'm not using one. In fact, I had problems when I did (I was using the "pay for" version of Zone Alarm).

    I'm thinking that one site may not be the only victim. I tried accessing a completely different site tonight and had the same issue - but then, I was able to access it a few minutes later. I have noticed, though, sometimes I click on a link in a search results and it goes someplace else. Fortunately, so far, while it's not someplace I want to go, it's also not a porn site! Looks like something somewhere is awry!

    I'm going to run a full system scan with my anti virus and see if that finds anything.

    Thanks!

    Jo Byrd

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    I'm not Joe, Jo ( <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> ) but I can't help but chime in. I don't know who those techs were who told you not to run a software firewall, but they're wrong as can be. Unless you have a router unlike I've run across, you ARE unprotected if some devious program were to get itself installed on your computer. You didn't say what spyware programs you ran, but I hope THEY included Spybot, AdAware and maybe even an installed copy of Spyware Blaster.

    I have used the free Zone Alarm for a long time now and it does take some training to get it right but you shouldn't have had to abandon ZA like that without finding a fix for whatever ails it. We'll try to help you if you decide to give it another shot.

    Now, back to the Hosts file. Sometimes it helps to ADD a particular site to the Hosts file and many of us have, on occasion, done just that for The Lounge (WOPR.COM). If you Start, Run, Cmd and then ping the site that's troubling you, it will yield the IP address of that site. If I were you, I'd try ADDING it to the Hosts file to see if that makes the problem go away.

    Edited to add: I forgot to say that if you add the site to the Hosts file, do it in TWO entries, like this:

    68.178.254.189 wopr.com
    68.178.254.189 www.wopr.com
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    Sorry I'm so late getting back, Al, I was out of town over the weekend and the laptop was NOT invited, meaning no e-mail access.

    Actually, the D-Link (the router manufacturer) tech support people were among those who told me I didn't need the additional software firewall. Maybe it's time to rethink this. I use Norton Internet Security on the laptop and it's working great for me, I may just add it here. I already use Norton Antivirus.

    Yes, I have spyware programs: PestPatrol and AdAware Professional. Interesting how they find different things. I've run both, plus RegClean. Even ran Regedit and did a search on the problem site (being one of those with FAR too low a fear factor about delving into the Registry!)

    How can I find the address of the site if I can't access it? In fact, how does one get the site address? I haven't a clue.

    Thanks!

    Jo

  6. #6
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    You can see how to obtain the IP of a web address in Big Al's screenshot:
    - Start a Command Processor (it's in Start | (All) Programs | Accessories)
    - Type ping followed by a space and the URL of the website (e.g. www.microsoft.com), then press Enter.

  7. #7
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    Last night when I looked, the screen shot didn't show up! It's there this morning, though. Go figure. I did try, before typing in the address (www.etc) and didn't get a response. Didn't when I tried just now, either. Something, somewhere is totally blocking access - as though it doesn't exist. I ran both my spyware programs last night. PestPatrol found nothing, AdAware found the usual suspects - tracking cookies, mostly

    I am totally at a loss. It's not making any sense to me.

    Jo

  8. #8
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    I'm unsure of your choice of words. You did perform the ping command followed by a space and then the name of the domain, didn't you? This is what it looks like when you enter the command for WOPR:

    ping wopr.com

    You should get SOME response, even if it's a timeout message! Try going to Domain Tools: Whois Lookup and enter the domain name, such as WOPR.COM to see what results you get. Keep in mind that the reason I'm doing all this "fishing" is so that you can put the IP address in your HOSTS file.

  9. #9
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    In addition to Big Al's reply, if a command such as
    <code>
    ping www.microsoft.com
    </code>
    in a command prompt window results in a message that ping can't find the host, there might be a problem with the DNS (Domain Name Server) you're using. You could contact your ISP and ask them for an alternate DSN; they should also be able to tell you where you can set it.

  10. #10
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    Well, here's interesting (I'm accessing the Lounge from work). I can access the site just fine, here, but when try to ping it via the Command prompt, I get a "Ping request could not find host..." message.

    Jo

  11. #11
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    It's possible to configure a web server to refuse ping requests. I have no way of telling if this is the case here.

  12. #12
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    You've not mentioned the name of the professional organization, Jo, and I've refrained from asking you for privacy sake. But I don't know that there's much we can do to help you analyze this problem without knowing the name of the organization. As Hans said, it IS possible to configure a server to refuse "ping" requests but I wonder why an organization would do that if it expects to be visited by its many members. It's also highly possible that, as in my case, with a private IP address and a proper router, ping requests would go un-answered, but I wouldn't think THAT would be the case with an organization that EXPECTS to be visited by its members.

    So, here's another possibility. Can you contact them about this problem and ASK for an IP address that you could add to your HOSTS file, or in the best of circumstances get their assistance in solving this problem? We're here if there's something else we can do...

  13. #13
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    Al,

    It is very common for corporate firewalls to ignore all ICMP packets, including the ones used by ping. This can help to defend them against a wide variety of denial of service attacks.

    StuartR

  14. #14
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    Re: Weird browser issue (Windows XP PRO, all servi

    Now that I'm back home....

    YES!!!!! I'm once again accessing it!!!!!!

    Didn't mean to be so secretive, the site is www.stc-dfw.org. Not exactly a bastion of iniquity.

    I'm working at a company with a firewall that alternates between draconian and permissive. Apparently pinging sites is verbotten. Some of the "forbidden" sites make you want to roll your eyes - as well as some of the ones you can access.

    Had the bright notion of pinging from my laptop (which has never had any issues accessing the site), got the address, added it to the hosts file, and now I'm accessing it just fine.

    THANK YOU, all of you. You have helped me solve a really annoying issue.

    And now I'm gonna check into that firewall....

    Jo

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