Troubleshooting WebMask

This page gives you suggestions on how to get WebMask working when things go wrong. Some of these answers are quite general, and worth a read anyway. The following are links to the topics in the rest of this page:

It just doesn't work!

Make sure you've done all of the following
If you have done all these, try and find a more specific problem below.

No pages load into the browser

Assuming you have tried everything in the list above, the following diagnostic might help. While trying to load in a page, look at the WebMask icon on the tool tray.

If it is still grey then the problem lies with specifying the proxy in your browser.

If it yellow then the browser is connecting properly to WebMask, but WebMask can't get any data from the internet. The problem might be your proxy setting on the General dialog page within WebMask, or it might be your internet connection. Make sure you are connected to the internet!

If it is green then the connection is working properly, and the page is being downloaded. If it never finishes then there is something wrong with the web site, or the connection is very slow - refresh in the browser to try again, or try a different site.

Pages appear, but they still have adverts

First of all, check that the filters are properly installed. Right click on the WebMask icon on the task bar, and open the Properties dialog. Click on the
Filters tab. There should be a whole list of URLs. Check that there is one saying ... gif

If there aren't many filters in the list, or this particular one is missing, then follow the instructions for updating filters to make sure you have the latest set.

Otherwise, go to the WebMask test page, where you should find the garish banners are gone. If this works, then your setup is OK. You might have found a site which filter set you have doesn't cover - you can add it by following these instructions. First you might want to check you have the latest filters, by updating them.

My old proxy doesn't work

If you used a proxy for HTTP in your browser before, then you need to tell WebMask about it. For more information on proxies see the explanation about them.

WebMask error, Unknown proxy host

This means that the proxy you specified on the WebMask
General page cannot be found. First check that you have entered the proxy setting correctly. If you have, then your internet connection can't find the proxy. You might want to turn off the Connect using proxy setting on the same page, to see if it works without the proxy. Also, check your internet connection is up and working, and read the answer to the problem just above.

WebMask doesn't work after I rebooted

You should check the following:

My browser can't get pages when WebMask isn't running

Since to use WebMask you had to set your browser to use WebMask as a proxy, if WebMask isn't running then your browser won't work. To get round this you can do one of the following:

A particular advert keeps appearing, when I don't think it should

First, check that WebMask is filtering that advert. To do this, find the URL of the advert (not of the link that the advert goes to, but of the advert graphic itself). How to do this is described
here. Then check the filters page of the WebMask properties dialog. Look for the same domain name in the list of filters, and check that it matches one of them. Adjust the filter so that it does. After changing the filter make sure you refresh the page on your browser, so that it reloads it rather than getting it from its cache. If you still can't get it to work, see the next question.

A particular advert really won't go away

A good trick to try is to enter the URL of the advert (the .gif, .jpg, .png or other image file itself) into the browser. With WebMask disabled, this should display just the advert in your browser window. Press refresh on the browser to be sure it is not using its cache. Then try changing the filter, and refreshing the browser, until you get a blank page. Then go back to the original page, and do one final refresh.

The URL of the image of an advert keeps changing!

Some of them do do this. You'll want to try using the partial match filter type, to match the part of the URL that is the same each time. If this isn't powerful enough, you will have to wait for a later version of WebMask, which includes regular expressions.

Secure HTML connections fail

If you're using Internet Explorer 3.02, then you may be victim of the secure proxy bug. See the bottom of the
Internet Explorer 3 setup page.

There are large blank areas in the browser window...

WebMask replaces the advert with a 2x1 blank .gif file. However, if the <img> tag in the HTML source file specifies a size for the image then the blank image will be stretched to that size.

... sometimes with borders round them

This is the same problem as in the previous question. The <img> tag can also contain instructions to put a border round the advert, and this will also put a border round the blank image. Sometimes even round the 2x1 image, giving you tiny little rectangles on the screen.

There is nothing you can do about either of these problems in the current version of WebMask. Future versions may allow you to filter the HTML source itself, removing the offending <img> tag entirely.

It keeps jumping to advert pages!

This happens to me all the time. I keep clicking in the blank areas of the browser where the adverts used to be, thinking that it is a non-active piece of screen that I can use to bring the window to the front. See the previous two questions for a possible future solution.

WebMask icon changes colour, even when WebMask disabled

The WebMask icon changes between three colours as connections are made and broken. Even if WebMask is not enabled, this will still happen. This is because WebMask still acts as a proxy and still forwards HTTP requests from the browser, even when it is disabled. The "disabled" option just turns off the advert filtering, and anonymity options.

Sometimes whole HTML pages fail to load in

You have specified too broad a filter. If you filter with a partial filter, with no beginning or end text, then you will not be able to access anything on Filtering HTML pages can be a feature - it allows you to block out whole pages. For example, if one frame of a frameset is just adverts, you could block that whole page.

Web pages don't look the same as before

That's because the adverts have gone! Seriously, you can see the difference that WebMask is making on a particular page. With WebMask enabled, load the page into a browser window, then open a new browser window, and go to the same page. Now, disable WebMask (right click on the task tray icon, and untick Enable) and refresh the second browser window. Compare the two browser windows. This is useful to check that WebMask isn't having any untoward effects - such as filtering images that you would like to see.

Cryptic error messages about needing browser information

Some pages object if you turn on the privacy features of WebMask. Go to the
Privacy page of WebMask, and turn off some or all of the Hide browser information options. Then try and reload the troublesome page.

You could instead temporarily turn off all filtering and privacy features by right clicking on the WebMask icon in the tooltray, and unticking Enable, and then reload the web page.

Web pages tell me I need a Javascript browser... but I have one!

This is possibly another case of the page objecting to the privacy features of WebMask. Sometimes programs look at the version of the browser to decide if it uses Javascript, rather than testing properly by trying to run some Javascript at the client side. Since WebMask can hide the browser information, this could be the problem.

Try going to the Privacy page of WebMask, and turn off some or all of the Hide browser information options. Then try and reload the troublesome page. You could instead temporarily turn off all filtering and privacy features by right clicking on the WebMask icon in the tooltray, and unticking Enable, and then reload the web page.

Web pages tell me I need a Cookie supporting browser... but I have one!

This is possibly the same problem as in the question just above, about web pages saying that you need a Javascript browser when you have one.

Web counters are sometimes counting zero

Certain web counters live at a fixed URL, but count for several different pages independently. When the counter graphic is retrieved, the server looks at the Referer: header to find out the URL of the page the image is being used on. It can then return a count for that page.

If you tell WebMask to hide the Referer: field, then the counter will stop working, and often return 0 as its image. Try going to the Privacy page of WebMask, and making sure the Referer: header isn't being hidden.