Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Blog Takeover Part Deux - bwahahaha!!!

Testing! Testing! Can you hear me? Can you hear me? There we go! …and, I am taking over the blog once again! This time, I want to cover, dun-dun-dun – Windows Internet Browsers – sorry Mac users; I don’t have any experience with Safari.

You may or may not know this, but there are many internet browsers to choose from. The three most popular commercially available browsers are Internet Explorer (IE) from Microsoft, Firefox from Mozilla, and Chrome from Google.

I am a long-time IE user, so when the new Firefox came out, I thought I would give it a try. It lasted for about a week before I went back to my old IE browser. Firefox has some cool free plug-ins but it was always asking me to update something – the plug-ins, the browser, etc. I did not notice much of a speed difference between IE and Firefox (I know some of you are saying – What? You crazy?). And for what I used it for, I found myself having to go back to use the IE browser because of incompatibilities with certain sites. I know that Mozilla has corrected most of the incompatibilities and it now has an IE plug-in that allows you to view a site as if you were using an IE browser, but when I clicked on it the other day, I was in the middle of surfing when the dreaded popup saying there was a new version available (UGH!!!). I am sure if I decided to install the new version, it would ask me to update my plug-ins. I like the way IE updates the browser behind the scenes.

The Firefox browser navigation was very similar to IE. It had much the same tools and labels. There were some differences, but nothing radical. I would guess that you can doctor up a Firefox browser to look identical to IE browser.

They say that Firefox has a new Javascript engine which speeds it up quite a bit. Most sties on the net use Javascript in one form or another to deliver and manipulate content. When installing Firefox, it allows you to convert your “favorites” from your current IE settings. The only problem with the conversion is that I have my “favorites” in a specific order; the Firefox conversion sorts the addresses in alphabetical order with all folders on top. So, it’s a good browser and would be a good back up browser if IE gets another one of its viruses.

The next browser I wanted to try was Chrome. Chrome was developed by Google. I thought this was a plus because it may be geared more for surfing the web than the other browsers. Google said that Chrome has been in development for 6 years before it released it as a beta. The inside joke about Google is that it only launches betas. It doesn’t convert any of its software to production stable (for those that don’t understand the terminology, you can read up on this common concept here à .). Well, to the astonishment of technologist everywhere, one month after the beta release of Chrome, Google launched a production version (Gasp!). I can go on discussing the logic behind this move, but that would be off topic…and I’ve digressed enough.

So, on with my review of Chrome… I downloaded the beta version and was playing around with it when it first came out. It worked fine. Faster than IE or Firefox, but it was missing the parts that made IE and Firefox so familiar right out of the box! Chrome was missing the toolbars and navigational history that both IE and Firefox displayed. Accessing favorite sites was hard as well! It converted your IE favorites, but accessing it was not the familiar toolbar button on the top middle of the browser window. There was some other differences that just made me feel uncomfortable using Chrome.

Since the release of the production version of Chrome, I downloaded and installed it again; which, this time, it didn’t launch. I spent hours trying to find out why it wouldn’t launch – reconfiguring firewalls, turning off spy-ware detectors, turning off anti-virus, patching registry settings. Finally, I discovered that a piece of software (system mechanic) I installed was preventing it from launching. After uninstalling system mechanic, everything worked fine.

The new Chrome browser was just like the beta version, but it seemed faster. Even though history, favorites, and tools were still hard to access, the address bar seemed downright psychic! I would start typing a site and before I typed out many letters, the site address would appear in the drop-down list (even if I never visited the site before). Other features I am still getting accustomed to, but like are
The “most visited sites list on new browser windows”, and
On opening the browser for the first time, it opens all the tabs you had opened on the prior usage.

I still don’t think that Google Chrome is quite ready for primetime, but it has some great possibilities. I can’t seem to get Mrs. Sister or the Sister-kidlets to even try it. I installed it on my wife and kids computers and all-hell broke out. Even though, my son was making up the “Google Chrome” jingle and singing it all through the house (to the annoyance of his big sister), none of them would even try it. It is truly a sad-day at the Sister-house when I can’t get my family to try new technology!

So, to finish, I am not going to cover the other browsers (…and there are quite a few !!!), but of the three I mentioned, I would still say that IE eeks out as my favorite, followed very closely by Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. I will bet that by next Christmas, We will be using a different browser and IE will eventually fade away like the HD DVD, VHS-VCR, BetaMax VCR, and the 8-track tape.

I now return control back, once again, to Mrs. Sister. I hope everyone enjoyed this voyage into technology. Join me next time when I review Video over the web (is blockbuster in trouble?)!

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