Will the real 404 please stand up?

One of the laptops in the house died recently. The svelte new Dell Latitude 13 showed up as its replacement, and it’s great. However, it’s running a factory set up version of IE8. I don’t use IE8, opting for the fox (for debugging) or the goog (for speed) instead, but I noticed that the totally awesome plip 404 page was being usurped in IE8. This will not stand! Just as I will not have my ISP taking over DNS for domains that don’t resolve, I will not have my browser decide what a 404 page should look like.

At first I found some sites that suggested a different header or that you could make your 404 page more than 512 bytes. While this will work, and will work every *every* user, I was curious about a client side setting. Enter “show friendly http error message” check box:

Just uncheck that guy in your IE settings and welcome back fugly plip 404 messages. Interesting enough, there’s all kinds of wackiness in Microsoft land about this. Read on if you care!

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