The News & Observer

January 3, 2000

Stump the Geeks

Section: Connect
Edition: Final
Page: D20
Estimated Printed Pages: 6

Index Terms:

Article Type:Letter

Article Text:

Q. I have a Macintosh G3 Blue & White tower with OS 8.5. I have been running Internet Explorer on it for a long time, months. About two weeks ago, running Explorer began to cause the Mac to crash. Seriously. On launch it was bringing up odd blank spaces - spaces with bar-code-looking things - sometimes blanking the entire screen with bar-code things floating around in it. Had to hit the restart button every time. About a week ago it started locking up every time. Every time.

Here are the solutions I have tried (in endless combinations!):

- Threw out all prefs except Favorites

- Ditched MS Preferences Panels

- Ran First Run

- Rebuilt desktop

- Zapped the PRAM

- Reinstalled all fonts

- Ran two different disk repair programs

- Downloaded and reinstalled the latest version

- Cursed and cried and prayed

Nothing. Still crashed. I finally threw away every thing having to do with Explorer (and inadvertently Outlook Express too, contacts and all! But that is another terrible tale of woe.)

An odd twist is that the cursed beast at one time ran from the trash! I had forgotten to set my default browser to Netscape Navigator and Sherlock, while searching the Web, launched Explorer even though all versions - 4.1 and 4.5 - were in the trash.


I am redesigning my Web site and would like to have Explorer back so that I can test my pages. (I also really liked many of its features - Navigator has its cool stuff but Explorer is really more flexible and navigator friendly. I have a need for them both.) I just cannot put up with the constant crashes.

Any ideas?

Peter Schilling


A. You have taken all the steps I can think of to fix the problem with Explorer. So, I am thinking that the problem must go deeper. The start-up symptoms especially would not be caused by Explorer alone.

The problem may have started with Explorer, but I think now your System Folder has a problem. There could be two causes of the problem: either a software conflict or a corrupted System Folder.

You said that things worked fine until two weeks ago. Did you add any new software a couple of weeks ago? If you installed any new software, especially anything that put files into your System Folder, then it could be causing a conflict with Explorer. Try removing any newly installed software and see if the problem goes away.

That is the easy fix. Now for the more involved fix.

If you have not installed any new software, then your System Folder must have been corrupted. To solve this, I would advise doing a "clean" install of your system and then doing an install of Explorer.

To do a "clean" install of the system, you run the System installer that came on the CD with your Mac. On the Select Destinations screen, you should see an Options button. Press the Options button, then check the box for Perform Clean Installation. Then continue with the installation.

This process will rename your current System Folder as Previous System Folder and disable it. It will create a brand new System Folder (called System Folder). After you do a "clean" install any fonts, extensions, control panels, etc. that you have installed will need to be moved or reinstalled into the new System Folder.

Your preferences will also need to be moved or recreated. This includes things like your ISP settings and bookmarks. Remember, in moving things from the Previous System Folder to the new System Folder, you could bring over corrupted files and with them the problems you are trying to solve. (A "clean" install is not difficult to do, but you might want some help if you are not comfortable making low-level changes to how your Mac operates.)

Since you are doing a system install anyway, I would encourage you to update to System 8.6. It is a free download (a big download, though) and will make your system more stable. You run the 8.6 updater after you finish the system install.

After the clean install of the System Folder, then do an install of Explorer. At this point, Explorer should be working. If you are using Explorer 4.5 or lower, be sure to download the update to fix security certificate problems. Those versions of Explorer will have problems accessing secure web sites after Jan. 1, 2000.

Hope this cuts down on your cursing and crying and gives you a reason for prayers of thanksgiving.

Bob Chandler

MacVantage, Inc.


Q. How does one go about getting a Web address to open a Web page to conduct e-business? Not e-trading, but one's own commercial business. Also, is it possible to register (not sure that's the correct word) a Web address (if no one else has it) so even though you don't want to start e-commerce now, you'll have the address when you do.

Jon Patmos

Chapel Hill

A.What you are talking (or more accurately writing) about is registering a domain. Your www address will be a part of the domain that you register. You could have other addresses within your domain as well.

For example, is a domain, but is a machine running a Webserver within the domain. There may also be a, a and many more.

In ancient days, obtaining a domain was as simple as sending an e-mail message to Jon Postel (see for more about Jon who was considered one of the most fair, honest and hardworking people in the world; he maintained the IP addresses and domain names for years).

Since those days of paradise, things have gotten more complex. Several companies are now authorized by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, to act as registrars for new domains. A list of these Accredited Registrars can be found at

Each Accredited Registrar offers not only registration but other services as well including: domain searching to help you find if the domain of your choice is available, the identity of the domain owner if the name is already taken, temporary home page hosting, name services, and more. The cost of registration can vary from $12 per year to $70 for two years depending of the registrar that you choose.

I checked and saw that has been taken by one Nicholas Negroponte of MIT. You could contact him and see if he would transfer ownership of that domain to you for some agreed on price or you could search for an alternative domain name. I next tried and found it was available. If you act quickly, you could own that domain.

Obviously there are some serious problems with this method of first-come first-served domain name sales. For example, if I had managed to register before this paper registered it, I might then hold out for a substantial sum for the use of that domain. I might rent it to a rival of this paper or to a site that would embarrass them. I could purchase, say, and create a parody site about that candidate.

After more than a few episodes like that, the Senate passed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (S1255) and the House passed the Trademark Cyberpiracy Prevention Act (HR3028). This might protect some famous trademarks from abuse, but it also can act as a way to silence parody, criticism or any unflattering information or site. Most famously, "sucks" sites, such as, have been sued by owners of famous marks. In most cases of this type, the parodies have eventually prevailed.

However as I write, one of the most controversial battles over a domain name is raging. In 1994, a European performance art collective called etoy registered In 1996, an ambitious company was begun called eToys. It registered in 1997. Sound confusing? It is, and it gets worse.

When folks tried to reach etoy for some anti-corporate performance art, they were shocked to find an aggressive collection of consumer products if they accidentally typed an "s." Conversely, folks looking for children's playthings discovered highly entertaining and informative art projects if they left off an "s."

Being in America and having more money, eToys initiated a suit against etoy when the art group refused the sell their domain for $500,000 in cash and stock. A court granted eToys a preliminary injunction shutting down the artists' site. But that caused a furor across the Net. The clamoring of geeks was deafening. Etoy's site was relegated to a number instead of a name as

Alternative sites were created including and as well as special sections of other artists' sites such as These sites called for everything from shaming eToys, to boycotts of their site, to virtual attacks on their servers.

As I write this, eToys has issued a new statement through their spokesman Jonathan Cutler:

"People are telling us they want the art of etoy and the e-commerce of eToys to co-exist. We've agreed. We're not pressing the lawsuit."

But is still not back online.

Once you do register your domain name, be sure to keep your payments current. You don't want to be in the position in which Microsoft found itself on Christmas morning. Suddenly, thousands of users of that company's were left cold and confused when the domain disappeared from the face of the Net. Talk about a Grinch attack!

It turned out that the world's richest company hadn't paid a $35 renewal fee for the domain name. Michael Chaney of paid for the domain to be reinstated so that he and others could continue to use the Microsoft's Hotmail service. A very nice Christmas present to Bill Gates and his customers from Mike. Too bad that Mr. Chaney is still waiting for a payment from Microsoft.

Welcome to the wild, wild world of domain names and act fast on that domain.

Paul Jones, director, MetaLab,

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

If you have a question, send e-mail to Include your name, e-mail address and a daytime phone number.

Copyright 2000 by The News & Observer Pub. Co.

Record Number: fnroxp89