http:// www.jms1.net / ie.shtml

Internet Explorer Information

You were probably looking for something else, but you are seeing this because you are using Internet Explorer.

I've been telling people for years not to use Internet Explorer because it is not secure. It works as a vector for distributing viruses, but more often it gets used to install spyware and other malicious software on your machine- to the point where remote hackers could have full control of your machine right now, and you would never know it (unless you happen to notice that your machine is running very very slowly, where it used to be really fast.)

In fact, it is impossible for anybody except Microsoft to make it secure- and even though they have the source code, the original programmers who wrote it in the first place, and a vested interest in the goodwill it would give them to make a secure version, they seem to have decided they don't really want to do it. Maybe if it were truly secure they wouldn't be able to keep their own record of your web page visits anymore?

Others have been saying the same thing as well- here are several articles which more or less say the same thing...

And to top it off, even the US Government is now saying it! The US Department of Homeland Security is telling people not to use Internet Explorer. You might even say it's your patriotic duty to use a different browser...

So I have decided to help make people aware of this situation by not allowing Internet Explorer to look at any pages on my web site, except for the page you're reading right now. Any MSIE users who try to visit my site will end up reading this page (the one you're reading right now) instead.


[killbillsbrowser.com][ed_button_t.png] 2006-04-29 I found another site which is doing the same kind of thing as what I'm doing here, although their version has a javascript pop-up window which allows the user to eventually access the real web page, and their link to download Firefox is actually downloading "Firefox plus Google Toolbar" through the Google AdSense program, which means that every time somebody downloads Firefox using the button from your site, you get a dollar.

I'm not convinced that "Google Toolbar" isn't spyware itself, so I'm not using that particular button here- although if you feel really generous and want Google to pay me a dollar for telling you to download Firefox, my version of that button is at the very bottom of this page. (See, I'm not above trying to make a little bit of money as well- but I don't try to hide it- Yes, if you click the "download firefox" button at the bottom of the page, Google will send me one whole dollar.)


2007-08-18 There is a site which is blocking Firefox instead of IE. His point is that many Firefox users are EVIL because they use a plug-in called Adblock Plus to keep from seeing the paid advertisements on his web sites, and are therefore stealing money out of his pocket. He says that he blocks all Firefox users because he has no way to detect whether or not they're using Adblock Plus.

My response to this...

If nothing else, THANK YOU for redirecting people to your site... it's a good way of telling people that whatever site they were about to see, would have been full of annoying advertisements and probably would have tried to infect their computer with some kind of spyware or a virus.


2008-01-25 Turns out I'm not the only person using agent blocking to exclude certain browsers- Microsoft is doing it themselves, in order to exclude non-Windows users from using their "Windows Live Hotmail" service. Microsoft already has a history of using agent filtering to block certain types of users- see the comments about Opera below.


Other Browsers

So what are your options? What other programs are out there which will do the same things you're currently using Internet Explorer for?

There are many other browsers out there, feel free to drop me a line (my email address is below) if you'd like to see your favourite browser listed here (unless your favourite browser is Internet Explorer, in which case you probably need to READ some of the articles listed at the beginning of this page.)


Questions

Why am I reading this page, instead of the page I was really looking for?

Because you're using Internet Explorer, and I have configured my server to send all IE users to this page automatically. If you use a different browser, you will have access to the normal content on my site.

But I'm not using Internet Explorer, I'm using Opera. What's the deal?

2005-12-22 You should no longer be forced to see this page if you're using Opera. What made me change my mind, you may ask? My own cell phone has Opera embedded as the browser, and no way to change the agent string. I hadn't realized that some Opera installs didn't have an easy way to change the agent string, or any way to access the "opera.ini" file to change it by hand.

For those who do have access to their "opera.ini" file, find the line which starts with Spoof UserAgent ID=, and change the existing value (which will be either 3 or 5) to 1. What this value means: 1=Opera, 2=Mozilla, 3=IE, 4=Mozilla without mentioning Opera, 5=IE without mentioning Opera. If you choose Mozilla, there will be a Spoof Version Code= line next to it. That value will be 0 for Mozilla (Netscape 5.0 and higher), 1 for Netscape 4.78, or 2 for Netscape 3.0.

2005-12-22 Not eight hours after making the change to allow Opera to view the site, I got an email from some AOL LOSER who called me a liar (among other names), and then eventually said that he's using Opera and still can't view one of the pages. I guess you just can't please some people...

His message upset me so much that I couldn't think of a way to answer him without lowering myself to his level, calling him names and so forth, so I basically told him that because he was being such an immature prick, I simply didn't want to answer him- even though I knew what the problem was.

However, given the issue involved, I can see this being a problem for others, so here's the secret- AOL SUCKS. Their desktop software works by creating a VPN (virtual private network) into AOL's internal network, and then forcibly redirecting all of your machine's network traffic through their network. Part of their internal network is a set of web proxy servers, which capture every web page request, make the same request to the real web server, and return whatever the web server sent back to the original client- but also keeping a copy for itself, so that if another client (another AOL user) happens to request the same page, the proxy server returns a copy of the page without consulting the real web server.

This means that AOL's proxy servers are full of copies of the results from the first time each user accessed a given page. And since 99.999% of AOL users are also using IE, guess what AOL's cache is full of... that's right, it's full of redirects to the page you're reading right now.

So basically, AOL users are being forced to see this page even though they may be running a real browser- and because these cached copies of the pages are returned to AOL users without my server being consulted, there's nothing I can do to fix it without removing the IE block entirely- and that's not an option. If you're one of the rare few who use AOL but know enough to use another browser, all I can suggest is that you complain to AOL. Maybe they have some setting you can use to bypass their web proxies... or if you have a real ISP that you use to reach AOL's servers, try running your real browser while you are connected to the ISP but not running any AOL software.

And for "wonder boy" with the magical spelling monkey (the AOL idiot who sent me the email)... seriously, dude. Learn how to act like a professional when you contact strangers on the Internet. If you act like an immature 15 year old punk kid, that's how people are going to treat you. (No insult intended to 15 year olds, by the way... unless you also have a habit of calling total strangers names while asking them for help.)

The information below used to be my old answer for Opera users. The information is still valid, and I don't see any harm in leaving it there, so if you're curious, enjoy.

A while back, Microsoft wanted a way to "encourage" people to use IE instead of other browsers. As a test, they changed their msnbc.com servers to deliberately serve broken pages to Opera browsers (kinda like what I'm doing with the page you're reading right now, but Microsoft was being sneaky about it.) When Opera showed them their proof and threatened to sue them, Microsoft reportedly paid over $12 million to prevent the lawsuit and mysteriously "fixed the problem" which prevented msnbc.com from working correctly on Opera.

While this was going on (or possibly earlier, I don't use Opera myself so I'm not sure) Opera added an option to let the browser "pretend" to be something else by sending another browser's identification string with each request. I'm guessing they set IE as the default choice for this option, because ever since I installed this page (almost two months ago now) I've been plagued with questions about this issue.

The answer is simple- find this option in Opera's preferences, and make sure that the letters "MSIE" are not part of what Opera tries sends to the server (it's usually called an "agent string", if that helps to find the option.)

If this helps, your browser is sending the following agent string:

CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/)

If you see the letters "MSIE" in there, that's the problem.

It may also be helpful to know that my server thinks your browser's IP address is 50.19.144.243. This IP address has a reverse-DNS name of ec2-50-19-144-243.compute-1.amazonaws.com. If this is not your IP, be aware that some ISPs (AOL in particular) have caching proxy servers which may be holding this version of the page and serving it to you from their cache, without actually contacting my server. If this is happening, talk to your ISP about how to bypass their proxy. If they tell you this is not possible, find another ISP.

Why did you set up your web server to show this page?

I feel that Internet Explorer has been a serious problem for the Internet for long enough, and this is one way in which I can start encouraging people to NOT use it any more.

HOW did you set up your web server to show this page? I run a web server and would like to do something similar, or I want to see if I can figure out how to "get around" your blocking.

I set it up using apache's mod_rewrite. My httpd.conf contains the following lines:

RewriteEngine   on

RewriteCond     %{HTTP_USER_AGENT}  MSIE	[NC]
RewriteCond     %{HTTP_USER_AGENT}  !Opera	[NC]
RewriteCond     %{REQUEST_URI}      !/ie.html
RewriteCond     %{REQUEST_URI}      !/ie.shtml
RewriteCond     %{REQUEST_URI}      !/copyright.html
RewriteCond     %{REQUEST_URI}      !/glider-small-cyan.png
RewriteCond     %{REQUEST_URI}      !/fourtentech.shtml
RewriteCond     %{REQUEST_URI}      !/fourtentech.txt
RewriteRule     ^.*                 http://www.jms1.net/ie.shtml

The idea is this:

THEN the browser's request will be transformed and the browser will be redirected to the result. In this case, the transformation is to replace the entire request ("^.*") with "http://www.jms1.net/ie.shtml".

The result of all this is that no matter what page the browser asks for, the browser is redirected to the target page unless the requested item is the target page itself, or any of the other "approved" items listed above.

If you're going to set up something like this, be careful that your target page (where you're sending people) is "exempted" from redirection- otherwise the server will send the same redirect to the browser over and over again. Most browsers will detect this and give the user an error about "recursive redirection" or "too many redirects", but it is possible that a poorly written browser will try over and over, causing a loop which could crash your server (or at least keep it busy.) I found this out when Firefox (my current browser of choice) gave me a "too many redirects" error when I first tried this.

As for "getting around" the blocking... that's simple. Use a browser which doesn't include the letters "MSIE" in its identification string. Oh wait- Internet Explorer doesn't let you control that without hacking the registry? I don't know, but it seems like a lot of trouble just to avoid using a different browser- if you're thinking about doing this, you must be a serious IE lover (or a Microsoft employee.)

What's so wrong with Internet Explorer anyway?

Many programs- viruses, spyware, adware, and other types of "malware"- use the security holes in IE to take control of your machine. These programs could be doing anything- they could be mailing copies of themselves to everybody in your address book, they could be installing a program to let hackers and spammers remotely control your machine, they could be keeping a log of the web pages you view and the people you send and receive email with, they could be searching your hard drive for your private files and sending them off to who knows where...

I have spent almost ten years now working in the ISP industry, and I have seen first hand the level of headaches which are caused by IE and its many bugs and security holes. I've even had users at ISPs where I was working go so far as to blame ME and the ISP for "allowing their machine to become infected" in the first place. I simply refuse to deal with it any more.

The point is that IE is one of the easiest ways for malicious code to get into your machine in the first place. If you stop using IE, your computer becomes that much less a target for these kinds of attacks. Internet Explorer is riddled with bugs and security holes. When Microsoft wrote it, they were more concerned with getting it installed on every single computer in the world than they were with security. Now the fact that their software is systematically insecure is coming back to haunt them.

Didn't Windows XP Service Pack 2 fix all this? Or Service Pack 3? Or Vista? Or IE 7? Or IE 8?

Two answers for this one.

First, the service packs are only PARTIAL fixes for SOME of the security holes. They haven't changed the fact that new vulnerabilities continue to be discovered on a regular basis.

I have also not yet found anybody who actually likes the changes that SP2 makes to IE6... their pop-up blocker is a pain to have to deal with- the concept of "security zones" probably looked good on paper, and in terms of allowing corporate IT people to pre-set their users' browsers to run ActiveX and other dangerous items when they're being served from an internal server it's not a BAD idea... but tying the pop-up blocker into it, and not allowing any way for users to customize the list of which servers are and are not allowed to use pop-up windows without adding them to a "trusted zone" is absolutely the wrong idea. Maybe there are servers out there for which I DO want to allow pop-up windows, but not ActiveX controls...

Second, not everybody is able to use Service Pack 2 (or Service Pack 3, or Vista.) Some corporations won't allow them to be installed because they break other programs they use, or just makes the machines unstable. Some people aren't running Windows XP in the first place, and don't want to pay the ransom and take the time to upgrade when what they already have works for their needs.

Here's an idea... IE6 can be downloaded separately without having to install Windows XP, right? It must be, I downloaded it for a client's Windows 2000 machine a few years back... How about making the IE6 security fixes, such as they are, available as a separate download from Windows XP Service Pack 2? Oh yeah, that might illustrate that Internet Explorer and Windows are indeed separate programs, contrary to what Microsoft tried to tell the court in their anti-trust trial...

So what about the Microsoft Anti-Spyware program?

Too little, too late... besides, with Microsoft quietly downgrading their ratings for spyware from a company they were looking at buying, do you really trust them?

The purchase talks died, by the way... when word got out that they were looking into buying this company, they saw this flood of negative reactions from the press and from their customers. I guess for once the interests of their customers happened to coincide with the interests of their stockholders...

So this is some kind of anti-Microsoft thing? You're probably one of those "Linux people", aren't you?!

It's not really anti-Microsoft... just anti-Internet Explorer.

And while I am a Linux enthusiast, I don't scream it from the rooftops and try to force everybody in the world to use Linux. It's not for everybody- but I do think it's high time people started to realize that there are alternatives out there, that Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer are not the only game in town. I think people should at least look into the alternatives. Linux is a good alternative for "standard" PC hardware, and Apple's OS X is an excellent alternative (if you can afford the Apple hardware to run it on.)

After all, it is YOUR machine, not Microsoft's, right? (Obviously this wouldn't apply to Microsoft employees who may be reading this page from a company-owned machine, but I'm sure you get the idea.) Shouldn't YOU be the one who decides what YOUR machine will and will not do, rather than some "security chip" embedded on your motherboard which will be controlled by Microsoft?

What do you have against Microsoft, anyway?

I think my biggest complaint would have to be their history of using anti-competitive practices to gain and keep a monopoly position in the computer software market, and to force their competition out of business. Microsoft's history is full of companies whose technology they have copied or stolen, and then forced out of business.

They also have a history of forcing people to upgrade by making newer versions of their software not compatible with their older versions. Case in point- Microsoft Office. Each new version deliberately removes compatibility with another older version. This forces customers who may be happy with the features of their Office 95 to upgrade because "everybody else" is running Office XP and can't read files from their clients.

They also have a history of their hiding information about how their software works, in order to prevent other companies or people from writing software to work with their file formats.

In a way I can't fault them for this... they are, after all, a corporation, and the number one job of any corporation is to increase the value of their stock in order to make money for their stockholders. It's just too bad that most corporations today, Microsoft included, are taking the position that increasing profits are more important than any shred of common human decency- although that problem is not limited to Microsoft by any means...

And lest we forget, Microsoft has a history of not writing their sofware with security in mind (which is why you're reading this page right now, instead of whatever else you were looking for.) Think about it- how many security-related problems have been found and fixed, just in the last year, with Microsoft's programs? How many more have been found, but not reported to Microsoft? Or reported, but not fixed yet?

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that I'm not totally "against" Microsoft. There are some things they do well- Microsoft Streets is one of the better consumer-level mapping programs out there (although it's not the most accurate, in terms of streets missing and in terms of the GPS accuracy of what they do have) and "Pandora's Box" is one of the best games I've ever played, hands down. I bought and paid for both programs years ago, and I have one laptop which runs Windows 2000 Professional (dual booting with Linux, of course) in order to use these programs.

And yes, I do have a valid, legal license for the copy of Windows 2000 on the laptop.

So what if a virus gets into my machine? That's my business, not yours!

Actually, when the virus in your machine tries to infect my machine, whether the attack is successful or not, it is my business.

And when your virus-infected machine starts spewing garbage all over the Internet, using up all of the available bandwidth, and making it difficult for me to do what I want or need to do, it is my business.

And when your virus-infected machine sends me spam, it is my business.

And when a million virus-infected machines out there start slamming my server at the same time, preventing it from serving web pages and handling email as I intended it to do, it is my business.

And when I have to spend an entire day at work, cleaning up some virus outbreak which could have been prevented if IE didn't have more holes than a block of swiss cheese, instead of doing my real job, it is my business.

And when I have to go in to work at 3:30 on a Sunday morning because a million virus-infected "spam zombie" machines around the world have flooded my mail server and filled the hard disk, causing it to crash, it is my business.

See the pattern here?

All it takes is one virus to make the entire Internet unusable. It has happened before (remember "Slammer"?) and it can happen again... but if enough people were using browsers other than IE, it would be that much harder to make it happen again.

You have no right to force me to read this page! I demand to see the original page I was looking for!

(This exact line was actually in an email that I got from somebody before setting up this redirector page, when I was redirecting MSIE users straight to a Yahoo News page about the Homeland Security thing.)

You are correct, I don't have the right to force you to read this page. You are welcome to stop reading it at any time.

So stop reading it.

Right now.

Okay, stop already.

Stop already!










Oh, you're still reading? That's what I thought.

As for demanding to see the original page you were looking for... obviously that page is on MY server, or you wouldn't be reading this page right now. And it was written by ME, and I own the copyright on it. Explain to me again how you believe you have any RIGHT to look at it?

Regardless of what you, or Microsoft, or anybody else may think, I DO have the right to decide what MY SERVER will or will not do. I have decided that I don't want my web pages (except for this page, any my copyright page) viewed by Internet Explorer. If you can figure a way to view whatever it was you wanted, without my server being involved in the process, more power to you.

If you don't like it, go find somebody else's server to look at... or even better, use a different browser and you'll be able to view any publicly-accessible page on my site.

Here's another way to think about it... how many pages out there won't work if you're not using IE? How many lazy "web developers" write pages that force you to use IE, because they don't work with any other browser? If it's okay for them to try and force people to use IE, then it's just as much okay for me to try and prevent people from using IE. It's the same thing, only in reverse.

So how can I view the page I was originally looking for?

Use a browser other than Internet Explorer. Have you been asleep the whole time you've been reading this page?

Ha ha, you think you're so smart... I can just look at any page on your site using Google's cache.

Do me a favour and grow up.

If you really feel the need to email me and tell me about this, don't waste your time or mine. I'm perfectly aware that Google has a cached copy of every public page on my site, and I'm fine with that- they're not using IE to build their cache. Remember that my intent with this web page is not to prevent you from seeing my site, it's only to prevent you from using IE to do so.

Also, remember that if you're looking at Google's cache, you are looking at what may be an outdated copy of the page. The bottom of each page tells when it was last updated, but as long as you're using IE, you will not have any way to directly check my site to make sure that what you're looking at is actually the most recent version of the page (and yes, some of the pages do change that often.)

I emailed you a question about this and you never answered. What are you, some kind of jerk?

You're free to think so if you like, I don't really care... I simply have better things to do with my time than answer stupid questions from hotmail and yahoo "d00ds" all day long.

People who send me intelligent questions are answered- in fact I got an email from an Opera user who had figured out the problem with the Agent strings on his own, and suggested that I add a section to this page which explained the problem, so that other Opera users would know how to fix it. Good idea, thanks!

The thing is, in the first year after putting this page up there were only about five intelligent questions, compared to a couple hundred questions from people who either didn't read this page to see what the problem was, or who wanted to tell me I was an idiot because Google had a cache, or who just plain didn't understand the whole idea of "use a different browser".

Sorry, guys, but if you're not even gonna make a show of trying, I'm not going to spoon-feed you the answers. I only put a note about it on this page in the hopes that you ankle-biters would stop harrassing me about it.

And the funny thing is, almost every one of the non-intelligent questions came from hotmail.com, yahoo.com, aol.com, msn.com, netzero.com, or juno.com.

No matter what type of user you are (guru, intelligent, ignorant, stupid, lazy, rude, whatever) I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read Eric Raymond's document How To Ask Questions The Smart Way. Even if you've read it before, it's worth reviewing every once in a while- he changes it from time to time. I consider this document to be required reading for anybody who uses the Internet, and I have zero tolerance for people who ignore what it says about asking others (specifically, me) for help.

I emailed you an insult, and you ignored it.

Yeah, I do that.

I've gotten about 20 of these "insult messages" over the past eight years (I started this page sometime in 2002.) In the same time I have received several hundred messages from people thanking me for telling them about Firefox and/or Opera, or for writing a web page they could show to their oppressive corporate overlords who forced them to run "IE only".

Every once in a while, however, somebody crosses the line. I have no problem with "four letter words" among friends, and I'm certainly man enough to ignore somebody calling me names, especially when it's somebody I've never heard of, will probably never meet, and will definitely never do business with.

I don't really know why, but the message I just received from Jonathan Corbett of FourTen Technologies, Inc. rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know if the guy genuinely thinks he's going to somehow change my mind (hint: insults aren't the way to do that), if he's upset because he was looking for some nugget of technical information which is on one of my sites, or if he's just an immature jerk who was looking to get a rise out of me.

Whatever his reasons, the message rubbed me the wrong way, and my way of dealing with it is to post a complete copy of the message, complete with enough copies of the names "Jonathan Corbett", "FourTen Technologies, Inc.", and the domain name "fourtentech.com", to hopefully ensure that the search engines will start including this page when people search for his name or his company's name, and they can see for themselves what a jerk this guy is.

Fine! I just won't visit your web site anymore!

Door is to your left.