What's “Active Content”?

If you've installed recent security updates to Microsoft Windows, you may see this message displayed at the top of one of our pages:

To help protect your security, Internet Explorer has restricted this file from showing active content that could access your computer. Click here for options.

If you look at “What's the Risk?,” you'll read that “scripts,” running on a web page, can do terrible things. So they can, if used maliciously — a characteristic they share with many common kitchen utensils. But like those utensils, they can also do innocent, useful, and necessary things.

The only scripts that run on our pages are the ones that open popup windows to display enlarged pictures. They are tiny programs, written in the JavaScript language, that determine where a window appears, what size it is, what picture appears in it, whether it can be resized, and so on.

That's all that our scripts can do. They're incapable of installing spyware, adware, malware, worms, viruses, cockroaches, or fleas. We recommend that you tell the browser to “Allow Blocked Content” (one of the options you have when you follow the “click here” instruction) while you’re on our site. If you don't do that, you won't be able to see larger versions of the pictures.

You might not mind missing htem on gallery pages; many viewers will find the standard-size pictures that appear on the gallery screen (as distinct from the larger ones that open in popup windows) quite big enough. But the illustrations on the text pages are pretty small, and the larger versions (the same size as the standard pictures on gallery pages) are much easier to see. And, of course, the little maps are unreadable unless they're enlarged. It would be a shame to miss out on all of this.

If the "blocked content" message crops up often enough to be annoying, you can "click here for options" and find your way to instructions for adding our site to your list of trusted sites, for which you can safely lower the security barrier and allow scripts to operate without ominous warnings.