Why can't I access certain websites with my Samsung Charge or Amazon Kindle?
December 14, 2011 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Why can't I access certain websites with my Samsung Charge or Amazon Kindle?

I'm a medical student, and I've been trying to access my hospital's Electronic Medical Record system (EMR) through my Samsung Charge and Amazon Kindle, both of which seem unable to load the website past the login screen. Obviously, being able to pull up a patient's medical records on my phone or a slim, pocket-sized computing device would be awesome, but I'm having no luck with it, and I'm hoping someone might be able to tell me why, or point me to resources that might tell me why (or even better, solve the problem!).

I have no problem accessing the site from Windows or Apple devices, including the iPad. The EMR is accessible through a web browser, and I haven't had any trouble accessing it with any of the browsers I've used so far on either Apple or Windows. So what could the problem be? At first, I thought it might be a problem with the stock Android browser, but I didn't have any luck when trying to access it with a browser I downloaded off the Market (i.e., Dolphin HD). My best guess right now is that there's some functionality that the Android lacks that is necessary to view these sites, like Java or Javascript or something, but I honestly have no idea what it could be, and no idea how I would go about solving that anyway.

So, Hive Mind, has anyone else heard of this or had similar problems to this? Is there any possible solution to this? What other sites/resources would you suggest I post to (forums, etc.) that might help me solve this?

Thanks in advance.
posted by Ephilation to Technology (12 answers total)
Perhaps (indeed, hopefully) your hospital has some kind of system where devices that access the EMR have to be registered and approved first. Are the Windows and Apple devices you're using issued by the hospital?
posted by IanMorr at 2:36 PM on December 14, 2011

IanMorr - nope. I can use my own personal computer and access the EMR.
posted by Ephilation at 2:39 PM on December 14, 2011

Probably need to find a browser that will allow you to change the user agent.
posted by Brent Parker at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2011

Have you tried changing the user agent for your Samsung? If that setting isn't available in your browser settings, you can change it by typing "about:useragent" and then select an alternate setting. This probably will revert to mobile the next time the device is powered off, though.

Have you also tried contacting tech support for your hospital? They may just need to add the proper style sheet for Androids.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2011

Good thoughts people, keep 'em coming!
posted by Ephilation at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2011

I'm curious whether you get any error messages when this happens. If it's something like "SSLException: Not trusted server certificate" it probably has to do with the SSL certificate the hospital's server is using to encrypt traffic between the server and your device.

Android only trusts certain certificate authorities (CAs for short -- the entities that sign SSL certificates), and it doesn't necessarily include all the ones recognized by desktop browsers. If the hospital chose a CA that isn't recognized by your device, the device won't accept the SSL certificate as valid.

Here's a blog post discussing this problem.
posted by orthicon halo at 3:01 PM on December 14, 2011

orthicon halo: Nope, no error messages. Just a blank page that won't change :(
posted by Ephilation at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2011

There is no way to tell what is going on without an exact account of the symptoms. You get to the log in page, give your credentials, and then what? Does it open a blank page and stall, do you get some sort of error, or does it crash?
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 5:35 PM on December 14, 2011

KeSetAffinityThread: What you first said is what happens - go to the log in page, give credentials, then I get a blank page and nothing loads up. No error, no crashing, literally nothing. It's like I opened a new, blank page. Hope that was helpful?
posted by Ephilation at 5:49 PM on December 14, 2011

This smells like a Javascript problem to me. Does the site work on a normal browser if you turn Javascript off? Possibly the EMR system cheerfully ignores best practices and does all its processing in Javascript, and the Android browser for whatever reason isn't working due to some minor JS incompatibility. Did you try Firefox on Android?

(I am assuming you mean a Kindle Fire in your question. The browser on the older Kindles is pretty bare-bones and I'm almost positive it doesn't support Javascript.)

Another possibility is that the EMR system is seeing you're on a mobile device and is 'refusing' to work because of it. Maybe get a user-agent spoofer extension for Firefox or Chrome and try spoofing the Android browser, and see if it works. If it refuses to work on a browser it otherwise worked on, mystery solved. In that case you'd have to find a way to spoof the user-agent in Android, which I imagine is possible but might be technically involved.

In either case, it's not really surprising that iOS Safari is supported, since it's the most prominent mobile browser. Did you try Opera on iOS (or heck, Opera on Android)? Also, iOS doesn't support Java or Flash or any related weird stuff, which pretty much narrows it down to a Javascript or user-agent issue.

(Another remote possibility is cookie handling, but if you can log into other sites successfully through Android that likely isn't it.)
posted by neckro23 at 6:09 PM on December 14, 2011

Thanks neckro23, let me try some of those suggestions and see what happens ...
posted by Ephilation at 6:32 PM on December 14, 2011

Do the sites allow mobile devices to connect? I had that problem with a work site that had blocked all mobile devices from connecting for security reasons. It let me log in but then nothing would happen.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:37 AM on December 15, 2011

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