Common problems with PCP web
Principia Cybernetica Web

Common problems with PCP web

The following list provides advice on how to tackle common problems when using the Principia Cybernetica Web. If this is not sufficient, please send us a precise description of the problem at the email address: PCP [ at ]

System asks username and password

This is unfortunately a bug that has crept somehow in our server software: when you request a page requiring a cgi scripts (e.g for entering a comment), the server reacts as though the cgi application is part of a protected "realm" that requires a password. Since we don't know what the password is supposed to be (normal administrative passwords don't work), we haven't been able to reset it and thus eliminate this problem. Sorry!

Server does not respond

If none of the pages of PCP web comes in any more, then the computer on which the website is running is probably down. Normally, the server should be restarted automatically after a few minutes, or manually after at most a week-end. In the meantime you can use the mirror server, which contains a copy of practically all PCP-pages. You just need to click on "Server: US" in the menu bar on top of the page (or on "Server: EU" if you are already working on the US mirror).

PDF files won't download or open

Certain large PDF files (e.g. papers or books in our electronic library) apparently cannot be downloaded by certain users. We are trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem, but it seems to have to do with the browser version.

If you encounter this problem, try to download the file with a different browser (e.g. Internet Explorer instead of Netscape, or version 4.0 instead of 6.0). If that doesn't work, try downloading the same file from the mirror server (see first section). If that still doesn't work (some PDF files are not available on the mirror), please send us the address of the PDF file(s) you need, and the precise configuration under which the problem existed (your operating system, browser, browser version), and we will send you the PDF file as an email attachment.

Links produce error messages

If you click on a link, and you get an error message saying that the file or document cannot be found, this means that the address of the link is not correct.
  • If it is an internal link, within PCP web (in that case the location or URL address contains ""), we should be able to quickly correct the error. Please send us a precise description of the wrong link.
  • If it is an external link, to another server (normally indicated by the icon), the problem is probably due to the fact that the document or website has moved to another location, or disappeared altogether. In that case, if you have a little bit of experience you can search for it yourself. If you manage to find the new address, please send it together with the incorrect address to us, and we will update all links to that address.

Pages come in irregularly

If it takes a very long time for pages to come in, or if part of the text or pictures doesn't come it at all, then the server, or the Internet connection between you and the server, is probably overloaded. (This seems to be a common problem for users in Latin America). In that case, you can try again later, or use the mirror server (see above), which is likely to give you a faster connection.

Search engine doesn't react

If you enter keywords to do a search in PCP web, but you don't get any response, then the search program is likely to be down. However, since this program is quite slow and easily overloaded by too much demand, it is also possible that the connection has simply timed out. Therefore, you should wait a minute or two and try again. If it still doesn't work, please send us a warning, and we will remedy the problem as soon as possible. (In the meantime, you can always use another, external search engine to search PCP web, such as the "AltaVista" search at the bottom of our search page).

Form for entering comments does not appear

If you click on the "Add comment..." link a the bottom of the right side bar, but you don't get a response, this is likely to be caused by the same program as in the previous problem, and the same recommendations apply.

Annotations are not acknowledged

After you have filled in and submitted the form to make a comment, you should receive an acknowledgment starting with "Your annotation has been added to PCP Web..." and including a link to the new annotation. If you don't get an acknowledgment, the connection has probably timed out (see previous two problems).

It is less likely that the program is down (otherwise, you wouldn't have gotten the annotation form in the first place). Therefore, you should in general not resubmit the annotation, because you risk having the same comment being added again and again. Try checking directly whether the annotation has been made, by entering its address in a different window. The address (URL) of an annotation has the form . Replace FILENAME by the filename of the node that you were annotating, and NUMBER by the number (0, 1, 2, 3, ...) of comments that had already been added to that page (or the number in the URL of the last annotation + 1). Only if opening this location gives you a "file not found" error should you resubmit the annotation.

Copyright© 2005 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

F. Heylighen,

Jul 15, 2005 (modified)
Nov 30, 2001 (created)


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