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Over time, we have received a number of reports of problems in viewing/using the First Look site. We have assembled the most common of these, with suggested solutions. Some of the hints provided here may apply to issues you are having with other sites as well.

Be sure you have read the viewing hints page first, since it contains some helpful basic information before you start troubleshooting.

Site Display

We monitor error reports from the web server and try to address site-related issues as quickly as possible. In other cases, the problem is not with the website, but in your device, browser, or internet connection. In such cases, it is likely that sites other than will also experience similar problems. If the site does not seem to be displaying pages properly in any way, check the following. The problem may affect all viewing, or the site may appear to start fine and then exhibit a problem.

  • BROWSER SETTINGS. Normally the default settings for the browser should work.

    • Javacript must be enabled (normally on by default). If not, the page may show an error, page features may not be complete, or in some cases content that should appear inside a page may appear separately, outside the normal site framework.
    • Pop-up windows are not required (also the default setting).

  • BROWSER CACHING. This is clearly the most annoying, and often least obvious, problem we encounter because it seems like the fault is at the website.

    In order to speed up page display, browsers can store copies of website pages on your device. However, if the page changes on the site, you may still be seeing the cached version. In addition, afirstlook is a dynamic site, building pages by pulling information from the site database. The result can be that the browser stays with the wrong version of the page (a prime example is that the Theory Resources page may not show the additional resource buttons after an instructor logs in).

    Refresh the Browser. Often, simply hitting the refresh icon on the browser (usually a circular arrow) will pull the current page from the web server. If that does not work, try, in order:

    • Forced refresh. Sometimes, another combination of key strokes will work.
      • Try CTRL+F5 key or CTRL+Refresh Icon on PCs
      • Try CMD + R on Macs
    • Restart the site. Close the site tab or window. Try to open the site again by entering the root of the site ( in the address bar of the browser.
    • Restart the browser. Close all the browser tabs or windows, restart the browser, then open the site again.
    • Clear the browser cache and check settings. This varies with browser. Here are the four most popular:
      • Chrome. Unfortunately, the most popular browser (in the U.S.) also is the most tenacious in caching pages and refusing to refresh. In Privacy (under Advanced Settings), go to Clear Browsing Data and select Cached Images and Files.
      • Firefox. Use the History selection from the Open Menu option in the browser to quickly clear history, or find more specific choices in the History tab of Options (from Open Menu).
      • Internet Explorer. Under Browsing History In Tools/Internet Options, select Settings, then check "Every time I visit the webpage." This will force the browser to check with the site before displaying a cached page. You can also clear this history by clicking on the Delete option and selecting which features to delete ("Temporary Internet files and website files" should be enough).
      • Safari. Select "Empty cache" if available or select "remove all webpage preview images" from the Reset Safari menu.

Try another Browser. If your preferred browser still cannot display the site properly, try using another browser. If this works, it is likely that at least some other sites may also not function properly in your preferred browser. You may need to reset the preferred browser to default settings to see if that makes a difference. If all of this fails, try the Advanced Troubleshooting section below.

Best practice. Because of the dangers of caching on a very dynamic site, it is best to access the site by entering the home page url ( in the browser address bar or using an entry in your Favorites list that leads to the home page or a site section. While the site uses SEO (Search Engine Optimized) urls and is capable of finding detail pages quite well, this may not work consistently when stored as a favorite.

  • SEARCH ENGINE CACHING. Google and other search engines often cache frequently viewed website pages on their servers.. Such caching is usually noted in the search results. If you have an option, do not select the cached version, but go directly to the site. Otherwise, click on the search result, but be ready to refresh the browser if the page does not seem correct.

    Best practice.
    Many people routinely access sites by using a search engine. Because this can lead to cached pages or improper urls, we strongly suggest that you enter the site using a well-formed url in the address bar or from your Favorites.

    NOTE: IF you enter "A First Look" in the address bar instead of "" (or another valid url) most browsers will interpret this as a search request and give you a list of search results instead of taking you directly to the site.

  • SESSION MANAGEMENT. Because of the complexity of sections like Theory Resources, the site tracks your movement by initiating a "session" each time you enter the site. The session will eventually time out and the tracking information will be cleared. (It is never used for any purpose other than site navigation). This can produce problems if you leave the site open in your browser but the session has timed out before you return. Depending on what you were doing, the site may be able to start a new session, but it could also have problems and produce errors, in which case you can force a new session (see below).

    Best practice. When you are finished using the site, or have to leave for more than a few minutes, leave the site by closing the browser tab or window. If you were logged in, log out first.

    Forcing a new session. When restarting the site in the browser (or restarting the browser itself) does not clear up a problem, you can force the site to start a new session for you by using the url "".

  • RESTART THE COMPUTER. In troubleshooting, there is a lot of truth to the adage, "if all else fails reboot." We have encountered situations where the normal fixes for refreshing the browser or resetting the site session did not work, but things seemed to work after shutting down the device and waiting a minute or two before restarting it.

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Advanced Troubleshooting

When all else fails (including rebooting), you need to determine if the problem is with your computer or with the network you are using to access the internet. In either case, it is likely that you will experience problems with other sites and not just

  • Computer problems
    • Is your browser working with other sites? If so, checking against the "what you should expect to see" section on the Viewing Hints page and the steps outlined above should resolve the issue. If not:
    • If you can, try to access the site from another computer on the same network. If afirstlook and other sites work okay on that computer, then something is wrong on your computer, most likely firewall or browser settings. (This, however, is far less likely than working through the browser issues outlined above).
  • Network problems
    • Try accessing the site from your device on another network. If the site works ok, the problem is with the network you were on, such as a firewall setting that may be excluding or interfering with

      NOTE: Most devices should display the site on most networks, though the performance may vary. For example, videos (from any site) may not stream well when you use a public Wi-Fi network that has restrictions on bandwidth.

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Reporting Problems

If you cannot resolve your issue using these troubleshooting suggestions, or if you find errors or problems on the site (links that don't work, quiz answers that appear to be incorrect, typos or content errors, etc.) or if you have suggestions for improving the site, you can submit a description using the Contact Us form. If the form does not work you can email us at

When you submit an error report, be as specific as possible so we can understand exactly where on the site the problem occurs and what setting you are in (browser, device, type of internet connection).

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This page is linked from Viewing Hints, or can be accessed directly by using

updated January 22, 2015