It’s where most of us turn first for answers — the Web! But the volume of information coming at you and the speed at which you can find (or not find) what you really want can frustrate even the most Zen-like frog. Here are five annoying Web problems and their awesome fixes:
1. Too many ads! The fix: Get an ad blocker for your browser. Once you download the extension, most ads disappear from the web pages you view, including flashing banners and even search engine ads. Adjust your options or turn off the extension whenever you want the ads back. You can also click the “reader” function on Safari or extensions for Firefox and Chrome to make the ads go away while you read a web article.
2. Having to register just to check out a website The fix: Set up a “Just Looking” identity. Who needs more spam? Set up an email address (and username and password) to use for this purpose only. Remember to unclick the “receive emails” options and change Just Looking addresses now and then.
3. Lousy search results The fix: Use “advanced search.” It’s worth the front-end bother. For Google, click on the Advanced Search link that appears underneath the magnifying glass icon on the results page. For Yahoo!, it’s in the Options pull down menu. Bing’s Advanced Option appears next to the number of results and, while helpful, it offers only one feature at a time. Using quote marks around your search phrase may also do the trick but if your search isn’t actually a phrase, try inserting “AROUND(2)” between two search words. This will limit results to pages that include both words within “2” words of each other. You can choose whatever number you want to narrow or broaden your search. Example: IT AROUND(3) extraordinary.
4. Pages load too slowly The fix: Check this list. The solution could be as simple as emptying your browser’s cache or shutting down programs operating in the background. If it’s a constant problem, test your download and upload speeds to see you if you’re getting the speed you’re paying for.
5. Fake online reviews The fix: Think like a scientific researcher. Ignore the most positive and possibly the most negative reviews (although it’s less likely these are fake) and focus on the ones in the middle for honest opinions about pros and cons. Be especially leery of overly enthusiastic reviews and a group of positive reviews that were posted on the same date. Some review sites like CNET use software developed by Cornell University, which claims to filter out 90% of fake positive reviews.