Jun 182002

Mickey Kaus complains that, since he moved his blog to Slate, the back button on the IE browser is broken if you go to his old address, and so it is. (Fine, don’t believe me. If you’re using Internet Explorer, click the first link in the previous sentence, then click the back button. Now, before clicking the second link, bookmark this site. Now click the second link and try the back button again. Now come back here and finish reading.) Web monkey to the rescue: I emailed Mickey the following:

I don’t know what kind of software your web server in Nevada is running, but if it’s Apache, then there’s a simple solution to your back button problem. Your trouble is, you (or they, I guess) are redirecting URLs when you should be rewriting them. Let me explain. A redirect is like a forwarding number. If I type in http://www.kausfiles.com, I actually go to that old address, where I’m told that the new address is such and such, and off I go again. Then when I try the back button, I get stuck in the endless kausfiles/slate loop because I’ve actually been sent to two addresses.

What you want is not a redirect but a rewrite. With a rewrite, I type the same address, but the server, instead of forwarding me anywhere, examines the address and changes it on the spot. I go one place, not two–giving me a nice bonus of a faster response time–and my back button still works.

I know how to do this with Apache. If the Nevada boys are running some other software like, God forbid, Microsoft’s Internet Information Server, then all bets are off. But for Apache here’s one way to do this:

In the httpd.conf file, under the kausfiles hosts directive:

RewriteEngine On
# Rewrite all requests for the kausfiles main page to this new URL
RewriteRule /index.html http://slate.msn.com/default.aspx?id=2066854

That’s it! You can get a lot fancier if you want to, but even this simple setup beats hell out of what you have now.

This was three days ago, and it’s radio silence from the Mick. He cites several readers who point out that you can use the history arrow or hit the back button twice real fast, and one who says it’s no problem in Mozilla, but I offer an honest-to-God fix and…nada. Sheesh.

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