Click, click, click, hmmmm…

I suffer from a condition taught to me by my best friend Joan, whose birthday happens to be today — the same day as mine! (Happy Birthday to both of us!). When I was in high school (circa 1984-1986) she gave to me her copy of a giant single-volume encyclopedia. It was huge, thousands of pages in one big blue book. She explained how sometimes she would read about someone or something and then look up the “also see…” references at the end, then repeat the same behavior again and again. I think that encyclopedia was Joan’s version of the Internet, without all the ads of course, back in the 80’s (*Tim Berners-Lee had not yet created the World Wide Web).

So anyhow, clicking links in today’s age is much like following the “also see” references, except much easier, much faster, and you won’t accidentally tear the page if you go too fast. So here I am, looking through old blog drafts of things I started to write about and then never got back to, and I come across one about a new (at that time) Internet search tool (because we needed more of those) called YubNub. My first thought was That’s what one of the Ewoks said in Return of the Jedi (that was one of our favorite movies, minus the Ewoks). So I clicked to see if it still existed and it did! Many websites usually have an “About this site” link to a page that gives you some background. had a “What is this thing?” link so I clicked there and found the creator’s blog in which he mentions that the site is named after an Ewok expresion. I was right! Satisfaction comes to me when I learn something new or confirm something I believed, no matter how small.

Of course that can’t be the end of my click, click, clicking. I want more… So I went to the blog author’s main page, where I found several posts about religion that I just passed over as I looked for more “geek” stuff. Surely, someone who invented a search engine add-on would have more than just religious postings in his blog. And he did — recently he wrote about a picture of stars and his analysis, which is interesting in itself, but you have to see this picture and then read about what is actually IN the picture that you really can’t see…

So that’s where I landed. In that field of stars that I now want to download and zoom into. By the way, my long-winded semi-related trivial almost-run-on-paragraph blog POINT was the relationship between the thousands and thousands of “also see” references in an encyclopedia, the millions and millions of “links” on the Internet, and the “billions and billions of stars” (as Carl Sagan would say) in that single photo. So — I’ve just gone from an old draft of one of my own blog posts from seven years ago, followed the links from it to and the “What’s this thing?” page, then to the author’s blog, then to the Bad Astronomy blog at Discover Magazine’s website where I found a picture worth trillions and trillions of stars. That’s a stretch but I did it in just few clicks! I wonder how many thousands of times I’ve clicked my mouse since 1989?

** see also Hobbe’s Internet Timeline).

Comcast Webmail as my default email application

Ugh. Just had this horrible conversation with a Comcast “Tech” named O-Jay who was unable to help me set Comcast’s webmail as my default email application. If you’re trying to do this too, don’t waste your time. Download Thunderbird or some other email client.

When you install most email clients they ask when you first run the application, “Would you like this to be your default email application?” Installing the toolbar from Yahoo does this for Yahoo mail, as does Google’s gmail, and I’m sure MSN Live Mail also can set itself to be your default. The goal here is so that when you click on email links on various web pages your browser will automatically open a “Compose Message” window with the recipient’s email address already typed in and sometimes even a subject if the link was created to insert one. All you have to do is type your message and press “Send”.

This should be available with Comcast’s webmail also. It can’t be that hard to do. It would be a little easier if their tech people understood your question instead of pasting parts of a script to the chat session that are so far off the mark you just want to reach through the pixels and poke the guy in the eye.

Also, know that before I got to chat with OJay I was forced to go through a series of “Frequently Asked Questions” and some not-so-frequently asked questions in an attempt to solve my problem before I had to tie up one of their valuable tech people to figure this out. The “troubleshooting” section was almost as far off the mark as OJay but I was unable to capture any of that part of this time-wasted effort.

My chat session with OJay the tech support guy from Comcast:

chat id : 31943544-24c9-411d-b9b4-ca2eaeed38cc
Problem : Want to set Comcast webmail as my default email application in Internet Explorer.

Terry > Want to set Comcast webmail as my default email application in Internet Explorer.OJay > Hello Terry_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is OJay. Please give me one moment to review your information.OJay > Excellence is not our aim, it is our standard. It is great to have you on chat though I am sorry that you had to take your time to do this, I understand your concern and would like to apologize for this inconvenience.  I am very happy to get in touch with you and I am here to provide you the best resolution to your concern. My name is O-Jay.How are you doing today?

Terry_ > I’m fine. How are you?

OJay > I’m glad to hear that you are fine.

OJay > I am doing okay, thank you for asking.

OJay > How may be I of service to you and provide you supreme customer experience?

Terry_ > I can’t figure out how to set comcast webmail as my default email program. I have done it with gmail and yahoo in the past…

OJay > No worries, Terry. I can actually help you set your default email

OJay > What is your operating shysteM?

OJay > system*

Terry_ > Vista

OJay > And what browser?

Terry_ > browser is IE7

OJay > I understand that you want to set comcast webmail to be the default homepage of IE is that correct?

Terry_ > No. I want it to go to “Compose” when I click on an email link in a web page.

Terry_ > Right now clicking a link takes me to Outlook which is configured for my work email.

OJay > Where will you find your compose button?

Terry_ > Have no idea what you mean. There is no compose button. There is only an email link on a web page. Clicking it takes me to a compose window using Outlook. I don’t want it to use Outlook. I want it to use Comcast.

OJay > Can you provide me the exact link?

Terry_ >

OJay > I see, so when you use, when you try and compose, it is outlook>

Terry_ > Is there someone else there that understands this? There have been “mailto:” links since the start of the Web in 1992. Clicking on one opens your DEFAULT email program. I want Comcast webmail to be my default. This is possible if you use Yahoo webmail or Gmail or Hotmail. If you don’t understand what I am trying to do can you get someone else who knows what a “mailto” link is?

OJay > Yes, Can you please provide me a minute to ask.

Terry_ > No problem.

OJay > If you do use MailTo, please encode the included e-mail address(s) to reduce the spam for that address.

Terry_ > I don’t want to create a mailto link, I want to click on one. Encoding is something the web programmer would do.

Terry_ > This is not helping me and you obviously don’t understand the problem.

OJay > You may need to configure the mail to in the comcast email website Terry.

OJay > Please read this article

OJay >

OJay > It only opens outlook,

OJay > When a visitor clicks on a link, their computer will open up a New Message window from their primary email program. It won’t use a browser-based email program like the AOL or Gmail web interfaces, only email client programs like Outlook and Thunderbird. Note that there is no space between the “mailto:” and the email address; putting a space after the colon will break the link.

Terry_ > Ugh. There are dozens of email programs. When you install one, like Outlook or Thunderbird, it usually asks “Do you want this to be your default email application?”

Terry_ > This can also be done with webmail based email services, like Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo Mail. I want COMCAST to be my DEFAULT email application.

OJay > I am really sorry I do not have the answer to your query. As much as I would still want to help you, however, all my resources here are Comcast Tools and Search Channels which only contain Comcast-related Information. As Comcast Account Executive, I still would want to help you, but please understand that my scope is limited to Comcast. For any other unrelated Queries, you may refer to the service provider Representatives. Thank you for your Understanding.

OJay > Can you try and reconfigure that with Comcast again?

Terry_ > I don’t want to know how to set up a mailto link. I want to use one that someone else set up.

OJay > Do you have your own Comcast. email we can set up, Terry

Terry_ > It’s very simple. You click on the mailto link on someone’s webpage and it loads up a compose window so you can type an email to them.

OJay > Yes, I saw that Terry. However, we do not have any idea how to set up mailto.

OJay > Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s look at customizing the mailto link. Assume that you are building a list of visitors who want to receive your monthly newsletter, and you want to be sure that newsletter signups are very clear. You can use the mailto link to specify the subject line of that new message window, as follows:

Terry_ > Basics? huh? I’m not designing a web page.

OJay > Sorry, about that, that is not for you, Terry.

Terry_ > Obviously.

OJay > Have you tried to set it up like when you set up yahoo>?

Terry_ > Yahoo was setup automatically when I installed their toolbar.


At this point I realized that I should probably INSTALL COMCAST’S TOOLBAR! I thought, maybe, I could fix this myself before OJay could find someone else to answer my question. This can be done by going to and following the directions. In the middle of the install it said all of my browser windows had to be closed and asked if I wanted the program to do it for me. Why not? My chat session with OJay was in a Firefox Window and I was trying to install the toolbar in IE7. Oops. When I answered “Yes” Comcast’s Toolbar install closed EVERY browser window, including Firefox. So I lost contact with OJay. Interestingly, once the toolbar was installed it restarted all my browser sessions, including the chat session with OJay. Although, according to the chat window he had left the conversation. I guess he had another problem to solve.

OJay > Analyst has closed chat and left the room

There was a survey to follow. Was the chat session helpful? LOL. Was the tech able to solve my problem? More LOL.

Oh! Now I have a Comcast toolbar on my WORK computer. I went to a web page that had a sample mailto: link to try it out. Unfortunately when I clicked on the link, kind of as expected, my browser loaded a “Compose Message” window using Gmail.

I think I’ll stick to Gmail for work and Yahoo for personal mail. If you can get Comcast webmail to be recognized as a default email application then please let me know. :)

Star Trek: Lost Episode Transcript

(Picard) “Mr. LaForge, have you had any success with your attempts at finding a weakness in the Borg? And Mr. Data, have you been able to access their command pathways?”

(Geordi) “Yes, Captain. In fact, we found the answer by searching through our archives on late Twentieth-century computing technology.”

(Geordi presses a key, and a logo appears on the computer screen.)

(Riker looks puzzled.) “What the hell is ‘Microsoft’?”

(Data turns to answer.) “Allow me to explain. We will send this program, for some reason called ‘Windows’, through the Borg command pathways. Once inside their root command unit, it will begin consuming system resources at an unstoppable rate.”

(Picard) “But the Borg have the ability to adapt. Won’t they alter their processing systems to increase their storage capacity?”

(Data) “Yes, Captain. But when ‘Windows’ detects this, it creates a new version of itself known as an ‘upgrade’. The use of resources increases exponentially with each iteration. The Borg will not be able to adapt quickly enough. Eventually all of their processing ability will be taken over and none will be available for their normal operational functions.”

(Picard) “Excellent work. This is even better than that ‘unsolvable geometric shape’ idea.”

(Data) “Captain, We have successfully installed the ‘Windows’ in the command unit and as expected it immediately consumed 85% of all resources. We however have not received any confirmation of the expected ‘upgrade’.”

(Geordi) “Our scanners have picked up an increase in Borg storage and CPU capacity to compensate, but we still have no indication of an ‘upgrade’ to compensate for their increase.”

(Picard) “Data, scan the history banks again and determine if their is something we have missed.”

(Data) “Sir, I believe their is a reason for the failure in the ‘upgrade’. Apparently the Borg have circumvented that part of the plan by not sending in their registration cards.

(Riker) “Captain we have no choice. Requesting permission to begin emergency escape sequence 3F . . .”

(Geordi, excited) “Wait, Captain I just detected their CPU capacity has suddenly dropped to 0% !”

(Picard) “Data, what does your scanners show?”

(Data) “Apparently the Borg have found the internal ‘Windows’ module named ‘Solitaire’ and it has used up all the CPU capacity.”

(Picard) “Lets wait and see how long this ‘solitaire’ can reduce their functionality.”

(Riker) “Geordi what’s the status on the Borg?”

(Geordi) “As expected the Borg are attempting to re-engineer to compensate for increased CPU and storage demands, but each time they successfully increase resources I have setup our closest deep space monitor beacon to transmit more ‘windows’ modules from something called the ‘Microsoft fun-pack’.

(Picard) “How much time will that buy us ?”

(Data) “Current Borg solution rates allow me to predicate an interest time span of 6 more hours.”

(Geordi) “Captain, another vessel has entered our sector.”

(Picard) “Identify.”

(Data) “It appears to have markings very similar to the ‘Microsoft’ logo”


(Data) “The alien ship has just opened its forward hatches and released thousands of humanoid shaped objects.”

(Picard) “Magnify forward viewer on the alien craft”

(Riker) “Good God captain! Those are humans floating straight toward the Borg ship with no life support suits ! How can they survive the tortures of deep space ?!”

(Data) “I don’t believe that those are humans sir, if you will look closer I believe you will see that they are carrying something recognized by twenty-first century man as doe skin leather briefcases, and wearing Armani suits”

(Riker and Picard together horrified) “Lawyers !!”

(Geordi) “It can’t be. All the Lawyers were rounded up and sent hurtling into the sun in 2017 during the Great Awakening.”

(Data) “True, but apparently some must have survived.”

(Riker) “They have surrounded the Borg ship and are covering it with all types of papers.”

(Data) “I believe that is known in ancient vernacular as ‘red tape’ – it often proves fatal.”

(Riker) “They’re tearing the Borg to pieces !”

(Picard) “Turn off the monitors. I can’t stand to watch, not even the Borg deserve that.”

Do you Opera? New version available…

Opera just released version 9 of their browser. Most people that discover it’s features never go back to IE. I’ve personally been using it for more than 5 years and I’ve never had a desire to go back. Some websites still insist on using IE-only special effects on their pages so every once in the while I have to compromise and load IE (hopefully those designers will wake up and realize Microsoft does not own the Internet).

Curious about Opera’s new features? Opera browser: Features

Some of my friends thought they would have to pay for Opera to unlock it or that it was shareware. Opera released their browser as a free app back in September 2005.

P.G. & E. supports non-standard browser technologies

PG&E’s website today told me that I was using an unsupported browser (I use Opera most of the time). As I was trying over and over to work around the problem they prompted me to fill out a satisfaction survey. I answered all of the questions with “Excellent” because they had to do with user friendliness. However, at the end it asked for a comment. This is what I wrote:

Your website tells me that my preferred browser (Opera) is not supported. This is sad since it happens to be the fastest browser, the most secure, compared to IE and Firefox, and the most “standards compliant” browser available. Everyone has rushed to support Firefox because of media attention but a superb browser such as Opera, which has been around years longer than Firefox, is passed over again and again. It would be nice if the web developers of this generation would get up to speed and get on the same page as everyone else. Stop supporting incompatible browser technologies created by Microsoft developers who want to create their own version of the Internet.

More people need to complain when their preferred browser isn’t supported, particularly if it’s one of the top alternatives (Opera, Firefox, Safari for Macs, or Konquerer for Linux). These guys need to realize that the world is not made up of just Bill’s boys. The law makes special accomodations for disabled people, maybe we need to get similar laws for people in a minority computing category like Macs or Linux. A law needs to be written that says any website must be compatible with any standards compliant browser. Making an IE only website only limits your exposure. When will web developers realize that?