Web 2.0 Hints

Many Web 2.0 tools are in beta--not the final version of a product or Web site, but close enough to show in public and work the bugs out. But the bugs may still pop up when you are using a site. Here are some hints if you encounter a bug:
  • Flash is required to view many of the applications. Chances are this is already installed on your computer, but if it is not, click here for a free download. Adobe Reader is required to read a few of the links. If you do not have it, you can get it free here. Always check with your tech people before downloading anything.
  • Java needs to be enabled in your browser for many of the applications, too. Here are instructions on how to enable Java.
  • Be sure you are using the site as designed. You may not be able to use the back arrow, for example; the site may require you to click on a link to return to previous page. Read any instructions the site offers on uploading, exporting, labeling, or whatever you are trying to do.
  • Not all sites like all browsers equally. Switching browsers may solve your problem. Most sites seem to work with Firefox and Internet Explorer.
  • Check that your browser is up-to-date. Services may work only (or the best) with the latest version of IE or Firefox.
  • Refresh can make a stubborn tool wake up.
  • Try closing the site/browser/program and re-opening. This often solves the problem.
  • Not all links work all the time. Since there are often multiple links on a page to get to where you want to be, try clicking on another link. This often works in Blogger.
  • Firewalls and filters can limit access to sites or block actions on sites. Try clicking on a different link to that screen or just click again. You may need to work on a different computer (home or another library) if you can’t do what you want. You can talk to your tech support people, too, for suggestions.
  • Check your browser settings—make sure pop-up windows are enabled, allow cookies, and make other setting changes to see if that works.
  • Many sites require plug-ins like Flash to operate. Be sure you have the up-to-date versions installed on your computer. Do a search on the plug-in name to find the download, then follow the directions to install.
  • Most sites like Blogger, Bloglines, Google, Flickr, & YouTube will have a Help or FAQ section. Use these to solve your problem.
  • Ask a colleague for help. And offer your expertise to them.
  • Type a description of your problem ("can't change font size in blogger," for example) into a search engine. Odds are good that someone else had the problem and you might find the answer in a forum or group discussion.
  • When all else fails, move on to something else and try again later.
Keep in mind, too, that things change. Beta sites change a lot--you will see on the Blogger Dashboard where the Blogger Blog is, that Blogger is adding stuff all the time. Flickr, Google, Yahoo, and the others are continually adding and improving.

This recent New York Times article suggests some ways to Defang Scary Technology. It may help you think beyond the "which button in which order" approach to learning.

So if something looks different, something disappeared, or has a new name, the functionality is probably still there. You just have to explore the site some more. That's life in the Web 2.0 world--challenging, exciting, changing.

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