Blank pages in IE & no print dialog

I ran into a weird issue with a client the other day. Internet Explorer was displaying blank pages for many sites, including Windows Update. Also, the print dialog window would not come up in any application (File –> Print).
It took awhile to figure out what the issue was, but thanks to Google and some brainstorming for the right keywords to search for, I was able to resolve the issue.

I first tried to reinstall Service Pack 2 for XP, but that didn’t fix the problem to my surprise.

I then looked more into the problem, trying to figure out why some web sites would display fine, while others were showing up as blank pages. I finally discovered a pattern that sites who heavily relied on JavaScript and ActiveX were the ones that weren’t working, while sites that used plain old HTML/CSS were working alright.

So I think started to think of keywords that describe the issue I was having. Using a combination of blank pages, ie, and windows update, I was able to track down a few sites and USENET postings that talked about similar problems. However, none of those solutions worked for me.

Finally, I tracked down a post on a forum about someone who reinstalled Windows Script 5.6 and that fixed this exact issue. I quickly downloaded Windows Script 5.6 and installed it. After a reboot, both issues were resolved. I could now visit sites like Windows Update with no issues and the print dialog window was now appearing.

The Firefox extensions I use

Mozilla Firefox has an amazing ability that no browser can match. Extensions allow you to extend Firefox to meet your needs that the default browser out of the box cannot do for you. With a few quick clicks, you can instantly install an extension and expand Firefox’s features.

Internet Explorer supports add-ons, but there is no real one-stop shop for them and most of them are spyware. As far as I know, Opera has nothing like extensions, although it has a lot of features out of the box.

So I thought I would share what extensions I have installed on my copy of Firefox. I could live without them, but it would make my time online vastly less productive and more dangerous. I make a general rule to try to keep an extension as simple as possible in order to avoid any bugs or major issues. For the most part, I have been able to avoid big extensions.

  • del.icio.us 1.1 – Haven’t used this much, but it makes adding sites to your del.icio.us account a snap.
  • Disable Targets for Downloads 1.0.1 – Ever get an annoying blank tab or window when you click on a download link? That window is forever gone after installing this extension.
  • ForecastFox 0.8.5.2 – Quickly keep tabs on what the weather is.
  • FoxyTunes 1.1.5.4 – Control your audio player from the browser.
  • Google Safe Browsing 1.1 – The best way to prevent being a victim of a phishing attack.
  • LiveLines 0.4.4.2 – The easiest way to add a RSS feed to your aggregator (in my case, Bloglines). Simple and just works.
  • New Tab Button on Tab Bar 1.0 – Simple and self-explanitory.
  • SearchPluginHacks 0.1.3 – Right-click and delete any search plugin.
  • Tabbrowser Preferences 1.2.8.8 – Added options for tabbed browsing, including single-window mode (the best feature of Firefox I think).
  • Tab X 0.9.2 – Close buttons on each tab.
  • Update Notifier 1.1 – Keep your themes and extensions up-to-date.