ramblings... if they flash you...

you can either flash them back .. or get the Flash Player.. which is perhaps what they meant for you to do in the first place © Mazeguy

Weak humour aside *cough* © Mazeguy the issue of "Flash", or rather being able to have a workable version of it, is so important and not just for viewing website content / media, these days Adobe Flash is becoming a "must have" program as it's a basic system requirement for a heap of really popular programs like Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger for the Web, ICQ and so many more.

Yahoo! Web Messenger
hidden smiley :bz
When we recently reviewed Yahoo! Messenger for the Web it really hit home just how important having Flash is these days, unlike some web based Instant Messengers that use AJAX, Yahoo! decided to opt for a heavy Flash content, right down to their smileys, I guess it makes sense as their desktop / download version of Yahoo! Messenger relies heavily on this also, even though they don't actually mentioned it as a basic system requirment. We've come across quite a few Flash issues over the years, the most recent being the Display Image in Yahoo! Messenger but on and off over the years we've perhaps seen it all, so this wee rambling blurb covers some of the FAQ's that we deal with... and it just about covers the lot so fingers crossed that if you found your way here because of a problem you will find a little ray of hope :)

In December 2005 Adobe picked up Macromedia and put it in it's back pocket and in doing so "Macromedia Flash" became Adobe Flash and while this in itself didn't cause confusion, the use of, and term "Flash" when is used to reference the Program itself, Adobe Flash, and the Player, Adobe Flash Player, does seem to cause a great deal of confusion for some so to clear this up first:

1. eeek! I have to buy Flash??!
when using Yahoo! Messenger (or another Instant Messenger service like ICQ) and you see, or hear, that "Flash" is required, what they are referring to is the Adobe Flash Player, NOT the Adobe Flash program... so put your US$699 back in your own pocket and just swing along to get your free download, or upgrade, of the Adobe Flash Player :)

2. but I need the Shockwave Flash Player?
nope, you don't, quite simply because there is no such thing :) There are two completely different products for which there is no combined / universal player, there are stand alone players available for both the Adove Shockwave Player and the Adobe Flash Player.

the Adobe Shockwave Player   the Adobe Flash Player

which allows users to view media created with Adobe Director

and


which allows users to view media created with Adobe Flash

for Yahoo! Messenger (and ICQ) you only need to download the Adobe Flash Player, not the Adobe Shockwave Player.

3. but I have flash installed and it still doesn't work..grrr!

there are two possible solutions for this problem, lets address the most common cause first.
Do you have another browser set as, or that you use as, your default browser?
Like FireFox or Opera etc? If so you need to be aware that quite often when a system requirement states that Adobe Flash (Player) must be installed it may also come hand in hand with a requirement for Microsoft Internet Explorer and chances are that it's IE that the latest version of Flash must be installed to.

Example:
I want to use Yahoo! Messenger v8 which has (in part) the following minimum system requirements:
Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, or Windows XP
Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6 or later
Adobe Flash Player 7 or above


download Yahoo! MessengerEven though FireFox is my default browser I still have to have Internet Explorer 6 (or above) installed whether I use it or not. What isn't always clear, or clearly stated, is that for Yahoo! Messenger (and other programs) to recognise the existence of Flash, you need to have it install via Internet Explorer. It makes to difference to Yahoo! Messenger if you have the latest and greatest Flash Player installed in FireFox, all Yahoo! Messenger cares about, quite simply because it uses IE, is that you have the latest Flash Player installed in IE and that it's fully operational. A good habit to get into is that when you notice or are prompted to update Flash in FireFox, take the time to also update IE while you are there, so after updating FireFox, close it down, launch IE and then head back to the Flash Player Download Center so that IE gets the same treatment.

In summary, if you have a default browser that is not IE, you will need to make sure the IE is up to date and that when you install the Adobe Flash Player you do so using Internet Explorer, not your "other" default browser.

b. out of date...
If you have Flash installed in IE and you're still having problems your first port of call should be...
1. to double check the minimum system requirements of the program that you are trying to use, do you have the correct operating system, enough RAM and disk space etc? if you come up all clear then onwards and upwards.
2. Make your way to Microsoft Windows Update, ensure you have all the recommended upgrades and patches for Windows and for Internet Explorer. If you update or install anything make sure you reboot before rechecking your issue and/or continuing onto the next step...
3. the last step is Adobe Flash itself.
Launch Internet Explorer
head along to About Adobe Flash Player, this page will check and report your currently installed version of Flash. If you have trouble accessing that page you can run a similar test at Version Text for Adobe Flash Player.
If there is an update available then either follow the prompts or head directly to the Flash Player Download Center and read the instructions carefully with regard to allowing access for ActiveX Control.

If you have trouble installing or upgrading Flash, check your Internet Explorer security settings, the level may be set to High or a custom level which does not allow viewing of ActiveX controls which is required. To change these settings:
Internet Explorer > Tools > Internet Options
click the Security tab
select Internet
Medium Level is the default, this will allow you to view Flash content.
If you are running a Custom Level make sure that ensure that "Download Signed ActiveX controls" and "Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins" are Enabled or set to Prompt.

or corrupt
Internet Explorer?
If Internet Explorer hasn't been playing nicely lately and you've become aware of a few quirks don't expect Flash to take to kindly to these characteristics, Flash likes to keep company with a squeaky clean browser, so if you have any doubts about how IE is functioning take the time to repair it.
Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs
from the Programs list select Internet Explorer
to the right of the listing click on Change/Remove
select Repair
Once complete, reboot.

Adobe Flash Player?
Issue still not resolved? Perhaps it's Flash that is being the less than co-operative neighbour. Next Step is to uninstall Flash and thankfully Adobe makes available a simple uninstaller for Adobe Flash Player plug-in and ActiveX control that you can download. Note: You need to read and follow the instructions they give exactly as stated on the download page:

3. Quit ALL running applications, including all Internet Explorer or other browser windows, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, or other Messengers. Check the Windows system tray carefully to make certain no applications which might possibly use Flash Player are still in memory.

If you proceed with running applications and / or ignore any warnings about Flash still running or being used, the process WILL continue right to the very end but the removal wont be complete nor a success.. it will just appear that way. If you get an error / warning about Flash being in use you MUST stop the removal utility, exit out of the uninstaller, then take the time to work out what is being used (perhaps in the background?) and close the program / access BEFORE relaunching uninstall_flash_player.exe

Once the utility has complete, reboot, for those who have Yahoo! Messenger running on startup and / or with Auto Login enabled, make sure that you sign out, close and exit the program fully, along with any other IM applications that may use Flash. Now you can launch Internet Explorer and head to Flash Player Download Center where you can start to reinstall the Adobe Flash Player.

Past your use by date?
The latest version of Flash
(at the time of this article) is 9,0,45,0 released 12 April 2007, to run Flash Player 9 you need to meet the following minimum system requirements:
Intel® Pentium® II 450MHz or faster processor (or equivalent)
RAM: 128MB
Microsoft® Windows® Vista: Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2.0, AOL 9
Microsoft Windows XP: Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or above, Firefox 1.x or 2.x, Mozilla 1.x or above, Netscape 7.x or above, AOL 9, Opera 7.11 or above
Windows Server™ 2003: Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later, Firefox 1.x, Firefox 2.x
Windows 2000: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x, Firefox 1.x or 2.x, Mozilla 1.x, Netscape 7.x or above, AOL 9, Opera 7.11 or above
Windows Me: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5, Firefox 1.x, Mozilla 1.x, Netscape 7.x or later, AOL 9, Opera 7.11 or above
Windows 98: Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later, Firefox 1.x, Mozilla 1.x, Netscape 7.x or above, CompuServe 7, AOL 9, Opera 7.11 or above


The latest version of Yahoo! Messenger
Support for W98 and WinME ended 11 July 2006, this doesn't mean it's a dead duck though. There is great debate over whether Yahoo! Messenger v8 will run on Windows 98, so much so we were prompted to do a full page article on the issue WackyB.co.nz ~ Yahoo! Messenger version 8 System Requirements where we address the whole Windows 98 issue, the short of the long... v8 will run on W98 although some features (system requirements for phoneout) aren't supported see our other article Yahoo! Messenger Ports & Settings for more information.

Internet Explorer 6
IE6 is a requirment for Yahoo! Messenger v8, strangely enough there is also some debate about whether W98 users can in fact upgrade and run IE6, the short of the long, they can.
The minimum system requirements for Internet Explorer 6 SP1 are
Processor:
486/66-MHz processor or above (Pentium processor recommended)
Operating System:
Microsoft Windows® 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), Windows NT® 4.0 with the high encryption version of Service Pack 6a (SP6a) and higher, Windows 2000, or Windows XP
Memory/RAM:
Windows 98: 16 MB of RAM minimum, Full install size: 11.5 MB
Windows 98 Second Edition: 16 MB of RAM minimum, Full install size: 12.4 MB
Windows Me: 32 MB of RAM minimum, Full install size: 8.7 MB
Windows NT® 4.0 SP 6a+: 32 MB of RAM minimum, Full install size: 12.7 MB
Windows 2000: 32 MB of RAM minimum, Full install size: 12 MB
Windows XP: 32 MB of RAM minimum, Full install size: 12 MB
Display:
Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution monitor with 256 colors

you do need to be running Windows XP (or above) to run Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 though.

So if you're a Windows 98 user don't assume that you are unable to run the Yahoo! Messenger v8, Internet Explorer 6 or Adobe Flash (Player) 9 :)

Links:
About Flash Player: http://www.adobe.com/products/flash/about/
Adobe Flash Player Download Center: http://www.adobe.com/go/getflash
Adobe Flash Player plug-in and ActiveX uninstaller: http://www.adobe.com/go/tn_14157
Adobe Web Players : http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/alternates/
Adobe Archived Flash Players (Flash Player v2-9): http://www.adobe.com/go/tn_14266
Adobe Flash Players v6-9 (Developers): http://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/downloads.html
Microsoft Internet Explorer http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/
Microsoft Windows Update: http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/
Yahoo! Messenger: http://messenger.yahoo.com
Microsoft Support Lifecycle Index (GB): http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifeselectindex

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