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Frequently Asked Questions

This section is part of the Romance.ucam.org online help system. (show contents). You can also view the entire document as a single very long page.

Troubleshooting problems and weird behaviour

There are some things that occur on this site that may appear weird. Sometimes, they are bugs (in which case, please let us know immediately, so we can fix them!) However, there are some things that may be unexpected, but are not exactly errors at our end:

  • Some web browsers wrongly cache stale, out-of-date pages, contrary to the instructions in the header. This means that a browser will show you the outdated web page it "remembers", to save it the bandwidth of fetching the latest version from our server. Since our web pages are dynamically generated, this is bad! A symptom is that you may need to log in twice. You can test it with this browser cache test.

  • If your inbox "doesn't appear", or the screen goes blank, it may be that you have far too many messages in it. Eg, if you happen to have 2629 messages in your inbox, the webpage will be very large, and may take up to 30 seconds for the page to load. (It is also possible to crash Internet Explorer this way.) The solution is to wait until the page eventually loads, then delete some of your messages!

  • If the correspondence page looks odd, it may be that one of your correspondents has written bad HTML. For example if a message includes the opening '<font color="#FF0000">' tag but wrongly omits the closing '</font>' tag, then all of your correspondence from that point on will show up in red. Delete the problematic message to fix this.

  • If a profile or message appears to contain 'junk' characters e.g. rectangles or question-marks where you don't expect them, this is a result of the so-called 'dread question-mark disease'. For example: "Microsoft?s misuse of ?smartquotes? doesn?t look very impressive."[sic]

  • Email doesn't always arrive when you expect it. Please see below.

  • Sometimes, links open in a new window, rather than the existing one. This may sometimes appear disorienting, since in the new window, the 'back button' doesn't work. We do this in cases where you might lose data otherwise. For example, if you are editing your profile, and click the html-guide link, that will open in a new window, so that you do not lose the text of the profile on which you are working. You may prefer to open such links in a new tab, in which case, please see here.

  • The site is very slow at around 3:45 a.m. This is a result of automatic housekeeping tasks performed by our very own Cron Daemon. Every night, the database is vacuumed, then the entire database is backed up over the Internet to a different machine. There is over 400 MB of it, and despite improvements in speed thanks to rsync, and compression, this still takes a while. During this time, our bandwidth is really saturated, so performance may not be so good. Of course, any sane person is asleep at that hour!

  • We believe that you should be able to use Romance.ucam.org with the web browser of your choice. We do not rely on anything browser-specific, and we do extensive testing with Mozilla, Firefox, Konqueror, Lynx and Links. Nevertheless, we can't test with every browser, and the site may look rather odd in early versions of Netscape or Internet Explorer. (Internet Explorer is especially bad at following the published W3C standards; it also can't display .png images correctly) If you find a layout bug, do tell us so we can fix it. We recommend Mozilla/Firefox, since it has the best features, and it's stable, standards-compliant, and free.

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