WSJ address bar icon? December 6, 2007 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Is there a MetaFilter-related reason I am seeing a WSJ icon in my address bar when I visit ask.metafilter.com?

I'm at work, so I'm on IE 6.0 and can't check other browsers. MetaFilter and MetaTalk have the "E" icon. I cleared my cookies/cache/logged out/logged back in, and for a while I wasn't seeing it. Now I'm seeing it again. Did I miss something? If I'm an idiot and this is something I did to my computer, I'm sure you'll let me know.
posted by peep to Etiquette/Policy at 10:24 AM (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Sounds like weird browser caching, nothing wrong on this end.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:33 AM on December 6, 2007


"E" icon? I see an MF icon.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:37 AM on December 6, 2007


Whereas I would like to see an ssF icon.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:39 AM on December 6, 2007


I usually see the MF icon at home, too. I'm sure it's work-related weirdness. Thanks!
posted by peep at 10:40 AM on December 6, 2007


I used to see IE get those things confused all the time. Switch to Firefox - it's the first thing that open source has more or less beaten Microsoft on, might as well use it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2007


OMFG MURDOCH BOUGHT MEFI
posted by matteo at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm at work, so I'm on IE 6.0

Please quit immediately.
posted by cashman at 10:44 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Try hitting ask.metafilter.com/favicon.ico and see if that helps. It's still the green MF that you know and love.
posted by mumkin at 10:44 AM on December 6, 2007


I was actually the developer who fixed this feature in IE7. The IE6 version is horribly broken. The only way to reliably fix it is to clear your history AND cache. This can be done from the inetcpl (Tools->Internet Options).

If anyone wants a more detailed explanation, I can go on at length.

And before anyone gets too snarky with me, I realize that it still isn't 100% in IE7. To which I respond: it's a lot fricken better than it was.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2007 [12 favorites]


Oh, then you have to re-add it as a favorite.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:59 AM on December 6, 2007


Now seems like the right time to confess that I used to enjoy eating puppies.
posted by Elmore at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2007


Did you change, Elmore, or was it the puppies?
posted by dersins at 11:07 AM on December 6, 2007


I suspect if you found someone willing to sign large enough checks, puppy meat would start to taste good again.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:10 AM on December 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


If anyone wants a more detailed explanation, I can go on at length.

Might as well, since we're all here. I'm interested anyway.
posted by puke & cry at 11:16 AM on December 6, 2007


Ditto.
posted by jmhodges at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2007


/me takes a seat.
posted by Plutor at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2007


Picture it: Redmond, 2006.
posted by box at 11:36 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not really just an IE problem--I've seen it happen in a lot of browsers. The Straight Dope and the Washington Post favicons in my Firefox bookmarks toolbar are both currently the Washington Post one. I only have two bookmarks in Opera and they both use the same favicon, despite the fact that they shouldn't.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:36 AM on December 6, 2007


By all means, do take box's lead and make the fate of the civilized world hang in the balance when you tell the story.
posted by cashman at 11:37 AM on December 6, 2007


Please do go on at length. This stuff fascinates me way more than it should.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:39 AM on December 6, 2007


*snuggles up with blankey, Muhammad*
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:45 AM on December 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


You know what people don't go on at often enough? Width.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've seen it happen in a lot of browsers.

Me too. I'm currently looking at my FF bookmarks toolbar, and my https login to my work e-mail has a Metafilter favicon on it. No idea why, happened about a week ago.

I don't know what it is, but browsers just don't play nicely with favicons.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:55 AM on December 6, 2007


If anyone wants a more detailed explanation, I can go on at length.

Please do. My breath is abated.
posted by timeistight at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2007


Yeah, I've seen it happen in Firefox with sites that don't specify a favicon. They seem to pick up a random icon from one of my other bookmarks. Weird stuff afoot.
posted by smackfu at 12:22 PM on December 6, 2007


snuggles up with blankey, Muhammad

You called your blankey Muhammad? Hang the heretic!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:32 PM on December 6, 2007


It's happening because now that Rupert Murdoch is taking over the WSJ, he's pushing his control across more and more media. Pretty soon, the new mod on metafilter will be "Rupertocracy", and Matthowie, Jessamyn, and Cortex will have a new master.
posted by inigo2 at 12:46 PM on December 6, 2007


I've been told width doesn't matter.
posted by Rumple at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2007


Am I really excitedly awaiting the story of how a developer fixed a bug in an internet browser? It has come to this?
posted by cashman at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2007


Tell us a bedtime story, jeffamaphone! Tell us how Microsoft doesn't totally suck and how it doesn't feast on the blood of the innocent to awake the ancients!
posted by loquacious at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2007


jeffamaphone- that's two hours we've been hanging waiting for you to tell us a story, I hope your crafting it off line.
posted by Gratishades at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2007


I'm a-thinking this story thing is some kinda big-city ruse. Ma, go out back and check on the cattle.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2007


Hey, cut the guy some slack. He's probably busy. Fixing Vista.
posted by box at 1:49 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jeeze, I went to lunch. Remain calm.

So the way IE6 did it was when you made something a Favorite, it would download the favicon once. The url for the favicon would be stored in history, the actual icon would be stored in the temporary internet files cache. So you visit a site, it does a lookup in history to figure out what the url for the favicon is, then it looks in the TIF to see if the icon is there. If you cleared either one, history or the cache, the icon was gone forever.

The whole thing was (and still is) built on the shell icon cache, which is just a glorified global image list that knows how to map PIDLs to Icons. Remember when the Internet was an extension of your Desktop? Yeah. Url to PIDL to Icon. The shell icon cache has a long, glorified history of becoming corrupted (which is why if you put the address bar in the Taskbar, sometime you see Excel icons instead of the Blue-E icon). IE's history database is a Wininet Url Cache Container, which is a glorified hash table also has a long and glorious history of becoming corrupted as well. Lots of bugs were fixed in IE7, both corruption bugs in the Url Cache Container and the system Image List. However, some still remain.

I rewrote IE history to use WinFS, but WinFS got cut. I then rewrote it to use Jet Blue (the esent engine that Exchange, ADS, etc, use) but that got cut too due to time constraints. One of the improvments to IE7 we were going to build on that was improved favicons. Either solution would have made it possible to store favicons the "right" way.

So, the third time I rewrote the favicon thing, I had to just build on what we had. It's an incredibly over-complicated proceedure to map an url to a favicon, but for IE7 we had tabbed browsing and we really wanted the tabs to have the right icons. So now it always downloads a favicon, whether or not you make it a favorite. It still stores the IconUrl in history and still stores the icon bits in the TIF, but if either one goes missing, it'll download it again. If you do happen to make something a favorite, we also store the IconUrl in the favorite. If you run on NTFS, we also store the bits of the icon in an NTFS alternate data stream on the .url file itself, so you can clear your cache in IE7 and the favorites menu still has all your favicons.

To sum-up:
Tell us how Microsoft doesn't totally suck
They're not any worse than other software. I remember chatting with the Fire Fox guys about how their history database sucks too and they always want to replace but it just never gets done.

how it doesn't feast on the blood of the innocent to awake the ancients!
Never saw that happen. I mean, I would think they would let me in on that. I just think there's no money in it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2007 [20 favorites]


Hey, cut the guy some slack. He's probably busy. Fixing Vista.

Nope, I left MSFT in May.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:55 PM on December 6, 2007


If you have favicons in IE7 that are horked, this guy managed to save the FAQ I had posted.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2007


Thanks jeffamaphone. That actually was interesting to me and I'm not a nerd by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:15 PM on December 6, 2007


Um, you've posted over 2500 comments to a web site.

It doesn't take much of a stretch to call ANY of us here a nerd.
posted by dersins at 2:19 PM on December 6, 2007


My mom has over 10,000 posts on a quilting forum but can't figure out how to play an MP3 in WinAmp. Go figure.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Your mom is such a nerd.

Not much of a geek, though.
posted by dersins at 2:41 PM on December 6, 2007


But either way, I'm sure she's a Very Nice Lady.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:46 PM on December 6, 2007


jeffamaphone: I suspect if you found someone willing to sign large enough checks, puppy meat would start to taste good again.

*bites back comment about jeffamaphone's former employer*

But seriously, is it really that difficult to map URLs to favicons? I mean, you just need the server name, right?
posted by whir at 5:43 PM on December 6, 2007


Whir: No--it should be brain dead simple if you build it right. I was stuck patching an existing system. The crappiness comes from building it on the shell image list and all the shell interfaces, like IExtractIcon. It should be just a straight-forward database query.

There are some complexities: Sites can specifiy via <link rel="shortcut icon" href="mypath\myowndamnname.ico"> tag that points to some other location. This can be done per page, so you have to check for every page. Of course this also breaks the specification by having a space in there, but the guys who implemented it before I got there either didn't know this (most likely) or didn't care. Imagine a site like geocities or livejournal where you have something like www.domain.com/user/index.html -- everybody may want their own icon. So you can't just base it solely on the server name. What IE7 does is check to see if it already has an entry for whatever the icon path is for the current page, and if so, it just points the current one at it. Even if it thinks it knows what it is, it'll still check again every two weeks in case it changes. You also have some sites that don't have one at all, and IE remembers that too and won't ask again for two weeks (or until the users clears their history). If you change what the <link&gt tag points to, IE does a compare with what it last had, notices the difference and does an update.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:51 PM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I see an MF icon.

I don't see no motherfucking icon, but thanks for sparing my virgin eyes.
posted by breezeway at 11:02 AM on December 7, 2007


jeffamaphone: "I remember chatting with the Fire Fox guys about how their history database sucks too and they always want to replace but it just never gets done."

You're half right. They wanted to get it ("Places") into Firefox 2, but much like WinFS, it was cut because of time constraints. Luckily, it's going to be in Firefox 3. I've been running nightly builds for about a month now, and it's totally fucking awesome.
posted by Plutor at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2007


Matt, drop the Furby brochure in front of the Starbucks, you cover is blown.
posted by Anything at 12:22 AM on December 9, 2007


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