"After doing a download, when I try to use the compiled version, the contents/index/search panes display on the left of the screen, but the body of the text does not display in the right-hand pane."
The problem is due to the (perfectly sensible) security settings of your computer. Go to the folder where you have downloaded the compiled help file, vm_whatever.chm. Left click once on the file's icon, followed by a single right click. This should produce a drop-down menu,. The last item is "Properties". Click on this option and a window will open. Towards the bottom of the window, you will see text saying "Security: This file came from another computer and might be blocked to help protect this computer." Click the adjacent "Unblock" button. Then click the "OK" button. This should cure the problem, which should not recur until the next time you make a download.
One of my colleagues had a problem which our IT department said was because .chm files were blocked. They unblocked it.
I have had one report of difficulty running the vm.chm file from a networked drive. The problem was solved by moving it to a local drive. Having said that, our departmental copy is on a network drive without a problem: this has the advantage that everyone in the department sees the same latest copy.
"Can I download the compiled help file and view it on a Mac"
Yes. Try using the application chmox (it is free to download from: http://chmox.sourceforge.net).
"The compiled version fails to work with an old version of Internet Explorer under Windows 95"
Internet Explorer 4.0 or later is recommended. See the Microsoft site at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/htmlhelp/html/hwMicrosoftHTMLHelpDownloads.asp
"If the web site is not accessible, how can I find out why?"
I have set up a site status reporting page at
Please make a note of this status page by putting it in your Favourites. This will enable you to go to it even when the main web site is not operating.