"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Sunday, September 16, 2012


- The definition of "Computer Science". :(

This so-called "science" is in fact, a "black art", in which the ritual incantations (aka "programming") are sometimes followed by the Manitous residing within the machines and software doing what you want, and sometimes not.

When I learned, in late 2003, that the entire IT department I was in would be outsourced, I replaced an old Compac computer with a new Hewlett-Packard machine, as I anticipated a very long (and ultimately unsuccessful, because of my age) search for a new position.

For a long while, I just used the Internet Explorer browser that was already on the machine. Over time, the subsequent upgrades only increased the size of the browser, and its insatiable appetite for memory usage, to the point where the browser would almost freeze during use.

Not being able to afford upgrading the machine (still the case today), I eventually downloaded Firefox on the advice of a blogger that found it to be far less of a resource hog. This was back in the days of Version 3.03 (I believe we're up to 15-something now) , and I truly did find it to be a great improvement.

But, it too was cursed with upgrades that grew more and more bloated. Having been warned by others, I stayed with Version 3.03, until Blogger.com (the service I use for my blog) no longer supported it, making it impossible for me to edit posts while using it.

This forced me to give Google's Chrome browser a try (Google being the parent of Blogger.com). This worked extremely well, after I got used to its different layout and I was quite cool with it. But, you gotta admire their respect for tradition; it too grew and grew and grew.

A while back, I downloaded Opera, having heard great things about its low-resource performance, and it's been my browser of choice for most things (I find most of my credit card and payroll accounts appear to be optimized for Internet Explorer, so I use it for them, and Chrome is best for editing my blog).

On Sunday, 09 Sep 2012, I visited my site meter (StatCounter) and found the display had gone to Hell ...
This is the Summary page, at which I've set to open this site.

Scrolling down, I approach what I came here for.

Now, I've gotten there. BUT, all that blue crap preceding shouldn't be there.

Having clicked on "Recent Visitor Activity" (at lower left of screen above), the new page opens with the same blue mess before arriving at this ...
Ok, we've gotten there, but it's in the wrong format, only displaying 
in two columns.  Worse, some of the page links no longer work.

This screen, from the Chrome browser, is what it should look like ...

I emailed StatCounter support about that, attaching the screenprints above, wondering, "WHAT have you DONE?  WHAT has Changed?", and expressed that wonder.

They responded ...

Hi Paul,

Sorry to hear this.

May I suggest updating your opera to most updated version if any and also
deleting browser cookies once, rebooting your machine and then re-logging
at statcounter.com

Let me know how this goes.

Ok. My reply to that ...

  I have done this
  Updated to Opera 12.02
  Deleted all browser cookies.
  Logged back onto Statcounter.

Same result, Summary page and Recent Visitor Activity page beginning with that dark blue area shown in the pictures I attached to the initial complaint, seeming to say "We need your feedback" (I think; black text on dark blue background not easy to read.

Visitor page shows in two columns (see pictures), instead of the four displayed on other browsers..

About the links that don't work: this begins about halfway through the fifth visitor entry. From there on down, no response to cursor moving over the links.

There used to be a couple of tabs or something along the right edge of the page; one a toggle to revert to the older version of statcounter, the other I don't remember. They're gone now, and it seems the problem started around then.

As far as I can tell, it is only on Opera that this occurs; IE, Firefox, Chrome doing just fine.

As you've not said otherwise, shall I assume you've tested on Opera, and have been unable to duplicate this?

Their reply ...

Hi Paul,

Yes - StatCounter is working perfectly for me in Opera.
No - not able to duplicate the problem which makes things difficult!

Have you tried a full refresh? (press CTRL and the F5 key simultaneously)
One possible explanation would be that you have an out of date CSS file
stored in your browser.

May I ask - are you using extensions or add ons in Opera?
Are you using anti-virus software?
Updates in either of the above cases could cause an issue.
Let us know what(if any) you're using.

Have you tried Opera on a different machine? If it works on another machine
for you then we have narrowed the potential causes down a bit.

I'm sorry about the open-ended questions - but they are necessary to try to
diagnose the problem.

Note: we have lots of Opera users actively using StatCounter as I type so
this would appear to be something of a local issue rather than a widespread

Please let us know you comments on all the above. Thanks!

At that point, my first reaction was "Life's too short!!!"

I experimented with some other browsers, seeking low-resource alternatives.

I tried Ace Explorer and Avant, which are both stripped versions of Internet Explorer. While there were some things I liked in each of them, they both had problems (not with StatCounter's site) that made me decide to not stay with them.

Last night, I removed them. A bit later, I pulled up Opera and went to StatCounter.

It's now working just the way it's supposed to.

I suppose it's quite possible the Un-install processes I ran may have cleared out something that was causing the problem (without even attempting to explain how it got there in the first place).

BUT, having spent a generation in IT (as programmer and trouble-shooter - favoring a .45), I can attest that ...
   "When the moon is in the Seventh House
    And Jupiter aligns with Mars"
       ~The 5th Dimension, "Age of Aquarius"

and ...
   "The phase of the moon"

are equally plausible as explanations for the random and capricious behavior of software.

I let them know, giving the opinion on "computer science" I voiced at the top of this post and added ...

I suspect we differ mostly in which entities we pray to; mine sometimes being Native-American to appease the Manitou's within the computer, and yours perhaps being Celtic*. :-)

Bottom line: We're good!

(* - StatCounter is based in Dublin, Ireland)

1 comment:

GW said...

Heh. I can empathize. That said, I had to get into my html script the other day to take out an out of date widget that was severely impacting the speed, and in some cases, the ability to access my blog. I haven't touched that html in years, and I am no programer. Unbelievably, I guessed at the lines of code I had to remove and . . . . it worked, first time. There are just some days that the God's smile on the ignorant.


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