AddThis Chrome Extension Displays Empty Service List: Solution Found!
make it a point to try and share solutions I find to any computer issues that are particularly disruptive – or those which prompt me to post to support forums seeking assistance. This is partly to ensure others who experience the same trouble as I can find the solution themselves somewhere at the very least (particularly if I encounter a problem that seems to have no solutions posted since I make it a point to do research before asking questions — RTFM, right?), and to expose my approach to public scrutiny in case there’s a more efficient method I’ve overlooked. And, by all means, please add your comment(s) in this blog if you’ve got something to contribute. More comments on a given topic increases the likelihood of matching searches on that problem topic.
There should be a list of services which would allow the user to select their favourite sharing mechanism for any web page displayed, as in the view above.
And so, what problem got solved? Well a rather mysterious behaviour was being reported by several using the latest update of Google Chrome: the extension installs successfully, the orange “plus-sign” that serves as the AddThis icon appears in the Chrome toolbar – you click it, and the bubble containing the list of services you could link the currently displayed web page to appears….containing no services whatsoever. Puzzled, you then right-click the toolbar AddThis button which yields the typical pop-up with “Options” menu item only to find a similarly empty service list customization screen. Where’d all the services go?
Was it a networking problem? Sort of. In Windows it’s possible to store a text file in a key Windows system subfolder to override the network (IP) address of a given URL or web address (or to be more technically accurate to override the IP address of any specific DNS entry). It’s called a “HOSTS” file – and it’s typically stored in a folder matching the path “C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\”. Now, by default, this file contains only some commented-out information when Windows is first installed. It’s expected that if you choose to edit the HOSTS file, you are aware that entries made therein will override network addresses for websites as far as your machine is concerned. (Obviously changing a file on your own system isn’t going to alter network addresses for everyone else on the Internet.)
One popular use of the HOSTS file is to take a phishing site or perhaps sites featuring adult content or other spamming web sites and assign their URLs to a special IP network address which refers to the machine the HOSTS file itself is on: 127.0.0.1. (This address referred to as “localhost” or “loopback”.) Why would anyone want to do that? Well if the hostile website you’ve been forwarded to by accidentally opening a link in an email that appeared legitimate or perhaps a virus wants to send sensitive info from your machine to a known hostile URL – adding the address to the HOSTS file and overriding its destination back to your own machine nicely prevents the harmful or undesirable network access from occurring.
Beyond this, there are a lot of advertisements online which can slow down performance and you might not want to have to deal with pop-ups and display ads all the time. (I’m in that group!) So I periodically obtain updates to my HOSTS file from a Microsoft MVPs website at http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2000. There are a number of helpful tools offered at this site; but I am interested in the HOSTS file because it eliminates a lot of the annoying and threatening content online. Unfortunately, despite its utility, there are some URLs which are actually useful but which, for whatever reason (they vary), the HOSTS file author(s) have determined are a threat or otherwise undesirable. Among these addresses were:
# 127.0.0.1 s3.addthis.com
# 127.0.0.1 s7.addthis.com
# 127.0.0.1 s9.addthis.com
So what this article discussed was the cause and solution for one possible scenario that could cause the absence of services being displayed from all elements of the AddThis interface in the Google Chrome web browser platform (all versions which support extensions so far). It was discovered that specific network settings (located in a text file with a default Windows 7 pathname of “C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS”) blocked a network address upon which the AddThis application is entirely dependent was blocked, causing the aforementioned absent services behaviour. While the HOSTS file was the cause of this particular issue, it stands to reason that any network management tools or software (eg. anti-virus/spam, Windows firewall or other firewall management hardware/software, etc.) could potentially cause the same behaviour. If you are experiencing the behaviour described above, your troubleshooting efforts should include checking your network settings – especially those which could block IP network addresses.
As always; comments and questions are welcome.