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Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

TECH BLEGS....If you're tired of my using this blog for technology blegs, you should skip this post. If not, I have two questions. Any help appreciated.

  1. Yesterday a reader sent me a little icon called a "favicon" to go with the site. It's the icon that shows up in the URL bar of your browser, or next to the bookmark if you have the site bookmarked. I loaded it into our root directory as instructed, but apparently it only shows up in Safari. In Explorer and Firefox, no luck. Does anyone know why?

  2. I intermittently have problems getting to certain sites. A couple of months ago Salon went dead for a week, and then suddenly became accessible again. Then a few days later another site went out. Then ThinkProgress went down, and right now it's Slate. The behavior is the same each time: For about a week or so I get a "Server not Found" error when I try to get to the site, and then it abruptly reappears and everything is fine.

    This time, though, I discovered by accident that Slate is only inaccessible if I go there directly from a bookmark. If I click over from another site, it's fine. This behavior is the same in both Firefox and Explorer. Anyone have any clues about what's going on?

That is all. Normal blogging will now resume.

Kevin Drum 12:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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I'm using Firefox on Linux and I see the favicon in the URL bar.

Posted by: mcfiddish on June 26, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, FWIW, make sure you have the "http//www." pre-pended to the address in your bookmark.

Posted by: MarkedMan on June 26, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

works fine in firefox. empty your cache and restart your browser.

Posted by: spyder on June 26, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

i am using safari and no favicon...

Posted by: northzax on June 26, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm using Internet Explorer ver 7 and I can see the favicon. Your site has been unusually slow to load the past couple of weeks though...

Posted by: raymay on June 26, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I had the same problem with Slate, but fixed it by changing the web address from msn.slate.com to just plain-old slate.com. The I discovered Kaus still going bananas about the immigration bill and deleted the thing from my favorites list.

Posted by: anrig on June 26, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm using Explorer and the favicon appears.

Posted by: KevinB on June 26, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

And with a refresh, it is in the nav bar, too.

Seems to be working fine.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 26, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Works fine on firefox and opera on linux.

Posted by: jsandoe on June 26, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with spydr that it's probably a caching thing. For the record your favicon shows up in Opera for the Mac, Firefox for the Mac, and (checking....) in IE 6.0 on Win2003 Server. For the latter it seemed to take a couple of operations before it showed up in the address bar.

figleaf (who's blog is only slightly about politics and not at all safe for work.)

Posted by: figleaf on June 26, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm using Firefox (latest version) on Windows XP, the Favicon is there -

I have no idea why - but clearings my browser cache seems to fix all my "server not found" problems -

Posted by: mldostert on June 26, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Slate is easy: Your bookmark is probably slate.msn.com, but the url was apparently just restricted to slate.com. I assume it was part of the transition from Microsoft to WP ownership and they were unwilling or unable to provide a forward from the older url.

With the rest, I often find sites that won't show up unless you include www, or vice versa. People who run websites should know by now that proper DNS mapping should allow access both with and without "www."


Posted by: Aris on June 26, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'm on xp/firefox, and it shows fine.

Posted by: sherifffruitfly on June 26, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Clear the browser cache and reload the page for the icon.

Posted by: Fred on June 26, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK


I sent you another favicon this morning. The email explains that I think the problem is a color map issue.

Posted by: Fuzzy on June 26, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

anyone been to shakesville lately?

Posted by: slanted tom on June 26, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

It was a little slow to pop up, but the favicon is now visible my address bar (firefox.)

Posted by: Brian on June 26, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

It works with Firefox on my Macs

Posted by: Steve on June 26, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

The favicon WFM too. Although I'd like to state for the record my dismay at seeing one more holdout fall to this intensely annoying trend.

Posted by: schwa on June 26, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Favicon shows up on tabs, but not in my bookmarks.

I see a little globe image next to it in bookmarks, which I think I somehow established myself sometime hundreds of years ago, and it continues showing up in spite of multiple re-installs of both the browser and the OS.

Posted by: cld on June 26, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

favicons: I use firefox, and there the nytimes, latimes, wapo, etc all have appropriate icons. your site on the other hand appears to adopt slate's icon, and brad delong and eric alterman show up with msn's icon. I don't know how the browser chooses if one isn't given, but according to this you can, if the "put it in your root directory" trick doesn't work, put the following in the html head: ???? oh well, your tag stripper will not show the link tag, so you are going to have to go to the url above to look at it.

for me slate stopped working for my bookmark, which was something like msn.slate.com. when I changed it to http://www.slate.com it magically started up again. I expect this is a DNS issue somewhere, since I've used the same bookmark for years.

Posted by: supersaurus on June 26, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm running Avant.

I see the icon just fine thanks....

Posted by: Paul Dirks on June 26, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think your problem is relying on the browser to "calculate" where the favicon.ico file should be.

You can add a link tag like this to aid the browser in doing this:

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />

Posted by: MBayRob on June 26, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

pardon the double post...

you can see here that the root is where the nytimes keeps theirs, assuming your site's tag polisher doesn't hose the link.

Posted by: supersaurus on June 26, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I've done this evolution twice and it was a real bitch each time--everything I see in the comments precisely mirrors my experience: baffling holes in the browser pickup eventually resolving themselves, usually through different caching systems.

Here the xhtml tag I use after a lot of grief:

***link rel="shortcut icon" href="/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon"***

Asterisks hide the code brackets. Be sure to close off the ending bracket with that slash!

Make sure it's an ico file--some browsers barf if it isn't. I used a site to convert my jpg to be sure.

This was just one more instance where I wanted to scream at the net. Each week being a web producer gets harder and harder with this incompatibility shit.

Think this is bad? Try top-flight corporate css positioning. A fucking nightmare, I'm not kidding, it's horrible.

Wanna tell me it's all the fault of IE? Go bark up a fucking tree. It's the web we live in, and our formating code is shit.

Posted by: paradox on June 26, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Gah!!! Why are you using your blog for tech blegs?!? Can't you just make your blog exactly what I want it to be?? /conservative

Posted by: Swan on June 26, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

empty your cache
No. Not until you show me the gun!

Favicon fine in firefox/win98.

Posted by: thersites on June 26, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Holy crap! I just clicked on another tab, clicked back to WM, and the icon was gone.
Retyped washingtonmontly.com in the address box, and it came back.

Posted by: thersites on June 26, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

what means blegs

Posted by: joe on June 26, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I never had these problems with my TRS-80!

Posted by: thersites on June 26, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

How come I get a FileNotFoundException when I try to read a file opened as a FileInputStream in JDK1.6?

Posted by: java on June 26, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

No favicon here in IE 6. I've noticed that sometimes favicons for other sites show up on one visit and are gone the next. I don't like 'em, so I'm happy they don't stick. I've never seen one for your site, Kevin.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 26, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why are favicons annoying? I like them because I can put a whole bunch of them on the toolbar; I find clicking on bookmarks. Note that, at least in Firefox, you can delete the name of the site on the toolbar so that only the favicon shows. After you've copied the favicon to the toolbar, click on it, click on properties, and delete the name on the site.

Those of who are fans would like to have a favicon that is unique to the site--perhaps "WM" in the typeface used for the magazine title.

Posted by: THS on June 26, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

anyone been to shakesville lately?
--slanted tom

Tom, Shakesville got hit with a Denial of Service attack. While they work out the tech details, they've temporarily relocated to the old blogger site, shakespearessister.blogspot.com.

Posted by: shamanic on June 26, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin. Using your blog for tech blegs and catblogging, I see. But who's more foolish- the fool, or the fool who follows him?

Posted by: Swan on June 26, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin - Did you have to use "W" for a favicon example! Ugh ... Call it a flamicon, or an unsavicon ...

Posted by: Neil B. on June 26, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I've got the favicon with Firefox 2.0 on WinXP both in the address bar and on tab. BTW - Thanks for using it; makes finding the tab easier.

Posted by: NealB on June 26, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I am using Firefox and got the favicon when I followed the advice of Fred and cleared the cache and reloaded the page.

Posted by: kathyp on June 26, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Shakesville got DOSsed off the Net last Friday. They are trying to re-launch.

Posted by: fiat lux on June 26, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

IE- favicon works.
Not on this comment page though...
And why just the "W"?
how bout W over an M?
and why is this site called "monthly"?

Posted by: Aaron on June 26, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Internet Explorer here, and thae flavicon's working just fine.

Posted by: David on June 26, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Alright, how's this for (unrelated) weirdness? For the last few weeks whenever I navigate to the NY Times site, the browser shows some weird HTTP header information (e.g. set cookie, etc.) atop every HTML page and my default text size of Medium suddenly renders like Grandpa's Large Print copy of the Federalist Papers.

Anyone else see anything like this?

Posted by: JR on June 26, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Favicon has been rendering in Opera (WinXP) for a few days now. In fact, it even showed up on my Netvibes page this morning.

Posted by: JB on June 26, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Your missing server problem is most likely a DNS resolution issue. The next time you notice this problem try this little experiment. Since you are on Windows, open up a command line window and type nslookup servername and see what you get. It should look someting like this.

C:>nslookup www.washingtonmonthly.com
Server: dns1.lsanca.sbcglobal.net

Name: washingtonmonthly.com

Aliases: www.washingtonmonthly.com

The first part is the address of the DNS server that was used for the lookup. The second address(es) are the results of the lookup.

If the command stalls or errors out than you almost certainly have a DNS issue. You can also check your results against a site like http://www.zoneedit.com/lookup.html to see if it matches up. Try typing the IP address returned directly into your browser's location bar and see if the site comes up that way.

This comment is already pretty long so if you want to email me directly I'd be happy to try and help you sort it out further.

Posted by: whalt on June 26, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

We're seeing an M in our browsers.

Posted by: McMurdo Station on June 26, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

A white "W" in a black square ...

Does that look like any automobile stickers you've seen over the past few years?

What the heck are you people thinking?

Posted by: Anderson on June 26, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Favicon popped up immediately in the URL box and on bookmark using Camino with OS 10.4.

Posted by: fyreflye on June 26, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Also shows up on Opera in Windows XP (don't know which svc pack).

Posted by: marcel on June 26, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -

A lot of DNS issues in WinXP can be fixed by closing your browser and typing the following at a command prompt -

ipconfig /flushdns

this flushes the DNS cache and forces it to reload next time you go to a web page. This only works if you have a stale entry in your DNS cache, if the site is configured incorrectly or they didn't set up their DNS records properly, or the link is formatted incorrectly this won't help.

Posted by: HankP on June 26, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I've noticed for years (on two different computers with IE) that favicons will show up for a few days after a site is saved to favorites. Then the icon reverts to the IE icon. I like the favicons, but I can't understand why anyone bothers to design them for their sites since they disappear within a week.

Posted by: jussumbody on June 26, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: no favicon in vista ultimate w/IE7, tried reloading, clearing cache, new window, etc and it's not showing up. try the favicon code explained above to add it to the page code and it should appear for everyone no matter what.
jussumbody: the favicons disappear in older versions of IE (older than 7) because they're saved as part of the cache. Clear the cache, they're gone, or, when the favicon gets old enough and the limit of the cache is reached IE deleted them as part of making more room in the cache, just like any other temporary cache file.

Posted by: animaux on June 26, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Will this solve the 'personal info no longer saves' issue? Favicons are cool, retyping the same shit over and over isn't.

Posted by: jg on June 26, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wicked cool favicon! It's coming in loud and clear on my WinXP and Firefox 2.0. I'm glad you finally got one. It makes it so much easier to find among my 20 other tabs.

Posted by: grapeshot on June 26, 2007 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

If you look up favcon in Wikipedia, you will learn everything you need to know. The url is:

Posted by: dberg on June 27, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin picks "Dubya" for his banner? What next?

Posted by: JS on June 27, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

I use Internet Explorer and have at times the same problem getting into The Washington Monthly. I lost the connection for several days last month. It happens occasionally with other sites, but can usually re-try and get in. No idea why this happens.

Posted by: Mimi Pemberton on June 27, 2007 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

Firefox running under Debian 4.

I had the TalkingPointsMemo favicon attached to WashingtonMonthly bookmark for a long time now, though the new WM favicon showed up on the URL display. Deleting the bookmark and replacing it, resulted in a bookmark with the new and correct WM favicon.

Posted by: m on June 27, 2007 at 7:10 AM | PERMALINK

I am using Firefox and got the favicon when I followed the advice of Fred and cleared the cache and reloaded the page.

Posted by: Stefan S. on September 6, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK



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