Yesterday, in a post about whether desktop operating systems will matter in 2010 (when the next version of Windows (codenamed "Seven") is scheduled to ship, I mentioned how Internet Explorer 7 (the default in Windows Vista) is like putting a chastity belt on a browser. Using Firefox is one potential work around. But not all sites work with Firefox. One non-Firefox-supporting case in point that has really brought IE7's overzealous security settings to roost in our home is Kodak's online photo gallery (formerly ophoto.com). 'I followed Kodak's step-by-step and it worked for the administrative user. But not for the standard user.' My wife, for whom I just purchased a new PC that came preinstalled with Vista, is a big user of Kodak's gallery. Like other photosharing sites, you can download some software that makes it easier and faster to do bulk uploads of photos. She had no problem doing this in XP. But, until today, I was able to get it to work in Vista with IE7.
Before I handed the computer to her, I set her up as a standard (non-administrative user) on the system. So far, the number of things haven't worked for her standard account the way they used to in XP/IE6 has been a major tax on my time. She tried to download some software from Kodak's Web site. It wouldn't download. Why? I couldn't tell at first. But it's apparently related to another problem her account is having: it can't access IE7's Internet Options. Not even to change something as simple as the browser's start page. When I tried this, nothing would happen. My gut instinct tells me to login as an administrator, but once there, I have no idea how to fix the Internet Options for another standard user on the same system.
Until today, it was vicious cycle. Everytime she'd try something for the first, time, it's "Daaaaaaavid!" It's clearly VERY secure. But maybe too much so.
When something doesn't work the way Kodak's software didn't work, there may be no telling why. I see a visual cue in IE7 that says "Internet Protected Mode: On" and I wonder if by turning it off, if some of her problems will go away. As any kind of user (standard or administrative), not only is Windows/IE absent of any useful information about what this mode is for, it doesn't work right. If I dive into IE's settings, it offers me the opportunity to turn the protected mode on when, in the status bar, it indicates that it already is on. Shoddy design.
Eventually, I gave up. She was all excited about getting the new computer (a Lenovo Thinkpad). Only to learn that she can't do the one thing (upload photos) that she does more of than anything else (non work-related). A door stop would have been just as good. Not to mention how bad this is for marital relations in the Berlind household.
A few weeks back, I bumped into the fine folks from Kodak during a gadgetfest in New York City. I asked for help. That help finally arrived in my e-mail a couple of weeks ago and included the following steps:
- Open one Internet Explorer window. Close all other Internet Explorer windows.
- Navigate to any website other than the Gallery (eg: www.google.com).
- Click on Tools | Internet Options.
- On the General Tab, click on Delete under Browsing history.
- Click on Delete Files | Yes and Delete Cookies | Yes.
- Click on the Security Tab | Trusted Sites | Sites.
- Uncheck the box labeled "Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone."
- Add kodakgallery.com, gallery.com, and ofoto.com to the list; click Close.
- Click on the Privacy Tab. Click on Advanced.
- Check the boxes that say "Override automatic cookie handling" and "Always allow session cookies." First and Third party cookie should be on Accept. Click OK.
- Click OK on the Internet Options windows. Close this window of Internet Explorer.
- Click on the Start Menu | Control Panel (or Settings | Control Panel) | Add or Remove Programs. In Vista, this may be Start Menu | Control Panel | Programs | Programs and Features.
- Remove any version of the Easy Upload tool that you may have previously installed, including v.2.1 (current version).
- Start up Internet Explorer again. Go to www.kodakgallery.com and sign into your account.
- Click on Upload Photos (third tab), Continue, Install Easy Upload. Click on Run and then Run again.
Never mind the fact that it's at least 15 steps before Kodak's gallery software stands a chance of working (when I first started having these problems, these steps were not listed anywhere on Kodak's Web site). Several of the steps involve making global changes to IE that have me wondering how far I must stray from IE7's default settings before other things start to go wrong. Or before some malaise or malware sets upon my wife's systems.
Maybe I won't have any problems. But I feel like I'm toying with something under the hood of a new car that I have no business toying with and that I could pass some point of no return.
Although I'm sure work arounds and third party utilities exist for targeting specific cookies for deletion, deleting cookies through IE7's stock interface for deleting cookies is an all or nothing approach. I hate deleting all of a browser's cookies because of the role many of them play in optimizing my user experience with certain Web sites. I don't like starting from scratch. I wish it was easier to delete just some.
I followed Kodak's step-by-step to the tee and it worked for the administrative user. But not for the standard user. Fortunately, the folks at Microsoft connected me with a support guy named Hal. By the end of the call, he determined that the standard user account that I had set up for my wife was corrupted and that the only way to recover was to create a new account, move any user files from the old account to the new one, and then eliminate the original account.
How, in a brand new Vista system, does a new standard user account become corrupted? Hal couldn't venture a guess. But it does appear as though IE7's functionality was somehow entangled with Vista's security mechanisms since everything seemed to work just fine for an administrative user, but not a standard user. Hopefully, Service Pack 1, whenever it ships, will put an end to these random events.