Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ask More Questions - Get More Answers

I had been tolerating a nagging problem with my web browser on multiple machines and now have a solution, because I had the presence of mind to finally ask a question.

Firefox is my preferred web browser because it includes the Gmarks plugin. The Gmarks plugin brings my google bookmarks into the Firefox menu. That makes portable bookmark management easier (all my bookmarks are stored at Google, visible from any web browser on the internet).

I also prefer the Foxit PDF reader instead of the Adobe reader. It feels faster, cleaner, and seems less likely to be attacked by malware (smaller installed base, newer code base).

Unfortunately, Firefox would report "OCX failed to load" when I tried to open a PDF file. I had found all sorts of strange alternatives for opening PDF files in Firefox. For example, sometimes I would download the PDF file, then open it in Foxit from the local machine. Other times I would copy and paste the URL from FIrefox to Internet Explorer, then use Internet Explorer to open the PDF file.

All those strange alternatives (work arounds, fixes, etc.) have now stopped. I was weary of the alternatives, so I used Google to search for the error message. In classic Google search fashion, the first page had a perfect match for my needs, a post which described my problem and an easy solution to my problem.

The moral: Ask questions sooner, don't be afraid of questions or their answers. I'll need to think more about why I didn't ask the question sooner...

2 comments:

Jim said...

Mark,

Good post. It's good advice and very clearly explained.

I agree with your enthusiasm for Google's searching ability, particularly when you can enter in a specific error message or error number.

In the software development community, when questions come up more along the lines of "how can I do [some fairly obscure thing] in such and such a language in order to do [some other relatively obscure thing]?" deveopers often turn to www.stackoverflow.com. It is a fantastic resource to get software development questions answered. We've recently started up http://testing.stackexchange.com to provide a nearly identical forum for the software testing community. It's too early to say whether or not it will gain sufficient traffic to take off but the first week's activity was encouraging (dozen's of questions asked and answered, >1,000 views, 30 new registered users, etc.) Please check it out the next time Google doesn't take you directly to a solution. Thanks.

Jim

Mark Waite said...

Another instance of the same "magic" and the same class of solution. I was weary of Foxit switching to prompt for user access control on Windows Vista with UAC enabled. One google search later with very specific phrases and I had the answer. I still marvel at how they are able to convert my phrasing to something so useful, so frequently.

And I also love testing.stackexchange.com, and stackoverflow.com...