Tag Archives: Web Browsers

Meanwhile in SJ

Way back in 1998 and 1999, I switched to the Gecko-flavoured Phoenix web browser, which eventually was renamed into the browser you now know as Firefox. When Chrome came out, what, 2 years or so ago, I switched mainly because Firefox was becoming a hog. Looking at the current installed browsers on my main machine (Chrome 8, Opera 11 and Firefox 4 Beta), all of them seem to have taken over Chrome’s UI choices. That is, main menus have gone and tabs are now part of (in Windows lingo) the main “Window Caption”.

Anyway: Since Google recently announced that they were going to stop supporting the H264 video codec (Mashable editorial, Google’s response to the announcement), I thought it was time to look back and try the current dev/beta of Firefox (Firefox 4 Beta). I could start with a snark about the best new feature of “Four” (the Feedback button), but honestly, it looks like the dev-team has actually made progress. Most importantly, Firefox finally seems to startup faster than the other browsers. And at least, at this stage,

So, is it time to return to the roots? Sort of: I’m not 100% convinced yet, but at least running Firefox would take care of that evil ‘Googletalk’ plugin that pesters my system. On the other hand: Firefox does eat up a lot of memory right from the start.

1 My famous 2006-ish browser timeline.

Wear soft

A couple of thoughts that crossed my mind:

Ever since I installed Civ4 on this Vista 64-bit machine (which didn’t go all too well, if I remember correctly) I ‘ve found myself start to dislike the game: I think ever since patch 1.61 was released (or maybe it was the one before that, but 1.61 was definitely a Vista required install) the game has been behaving differently and particularly ‘less diplomatic’ so to say.

Earlier this day, I updated both IE and Firefox on my older XP machine (My 2004 Toshiba A40 machine). I figured out that since Firefox was updating to some 3.0.11 version, I might just as well do an upgrade to Firefox 3.5. Frankly, I was surprised how flawless this went. Mozilla is doing some stuff good, I guess. Talking about the A40 “Tank”: this was my second personal laptop and it ‘officially’ retired in December 2006 or so, but eventually returned back in my hands last year. I did a lot of programming on that one and indeed it made it to The Netherlands were family members more or less seem to like it only because it was blue and sturdy.

I also played ARMA2 a couple of times and I’m sort of mixed about it. I’ll probably move a review to another date, but there’s probably hundreds of people curious if the game will run on their machines: I run it in high-mode (post-processing turned off, some graphical settings set to ‘normal’) in 1280 x 800 and it’s excellent and definitely playable. My (laptop) specs are seemingly ‘old': a 2.0 P7350, 4 gigs of RAM, 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT.

Update 1: Releasenotes Firefox. You may have noticed that 3.5 now supports the HTML 5 video/audio elements.

Update 2: Browser vendors squabble about HTML 5 audio and video elements.

Update 3: Goodbye XHTML (07/02/09).

Other than that

On Windows, I’ve beenClever Null solely using Google’s Chrome browser, leaving my Firefox copy at bay: Firefox only gets into action if I need to confirm that Chrome’s cache-loading-stuff has gone amuck again. Yesterday, for example we suddenly lost connection to the Internets and when Chrome decided to go into indefinite looping mode (it does that particularly when its internal cache is screwed up), I started up Firefox only to run into the pretty dialog shown above (or on the right). It seems that Firefox’s updater requires a persistent connection nowadays. What happened to ‘working offline’ if no connection was found?

On my Linux/Ubuntu desktop machine, I use a combination of browsers, of course: On Gnome, Firefox is the main browser and yes, Opera is good second. When I log into KDE, Konqueror is my default browser: Though, with all this Flash stuff (and the Konqueror hang-ups), I always have Firefox ‘on the ready’.

This reminds me that I find Firefox a lot more ‘faster’ on Ubuntu than on Windows (XP/Vista), even if you consider the fact that the Ubuntu machine runs on 2005 hardware (Centrino, 512 MB, yadda-yadda). If you recall, earlier Firefox 3 (beta) releases for Ubuntu were disasters mainly because obscure SQLite transactions happening in the background of a browsing session (earlier here). However, since Chrome for Linux is officially still Alpha (if you’ve seen the images you know what I mean), there’s no rush to switch browsers on the Linux platform.

Footprint

I was able to play around with a beta of the upcoming Firefox 3 (which is scheduled for release this year, according to the roadmap) and was a bit underwhelmed mostly because it drags. I was an early adopter of the Gecko-engine: that was back in 1998, 1999 when the project was still in its infancy and called Phoenix. I chose for it because of the program’s small footprint (on several occassions, Alfons afterwards provided me with hand-compiled versions, distributed via his dyndns account). On the other hand, if you compare Firefox to Internet Explorer, at least FireFox obviously tops IE7 standards-wise (Related: LifeHacker’s preview of FireFox 3, Firefox visual refresh).

Then I was asked about my opinion about ‘Android’, or the Open Handset Alliance, an initiative led by (your favourite searchengine) Google. I think this video (or direct link at YouTube) is overly cute but then there is that: I haven’t really used a cell phone in the last past years. When Alfons visited me a month ago, I was startled to see his phone being capable to connect to our local Rogers Network, a feat I wasn’t able to do with my Nokia (company) cellphone when I came over here the first time in 1999 (that is, my provider suggested me to buy a different phone and switch SIM cards). But back to Android: it’s software for the cellphone (or mobile petgadget) and comes with an operating system, middleware and ‘key mobile applications’.

Talking about Google: I was alerted of the fact that my Gmail now sports a new interface. At first I didn’t notice the difference and just now, I found out that I still don’t get what exactly changed (except for slight rounded corners at some spots). I assume that the ‘new thing’ is that Google has finally ported all generic HTML components to their own ‘webkit’ components, a kit which you can find around here (open-sourced).

The old new

Yesterday, I downloaded the ‘latest’ Eudora: Officially, there’s a team of developers working on the new open-source version of Eudora (based on Thunderbird, or something like that). Progress is slow, I hear (see also the Penelope project page @ Mozilla). However, if you have Thunderbird v 2.0 running, there’s a plug-ing available that supposedly remaps some of the Eudora functionality to Thunderbird.

Also old: I noticed that Forte Inc. programmers still frequently push out beta versions of their Agent newsreader. Many years ago, I used their ‘Free Agent’ version, which was a lighter less obtrusive version of the ‘paid’ one. There’s no ‘Free Agent’ anymore: as far as I can tell, the only way to get an older version is to do a Google hunt (or use earlier mentioned Thunderbird). Talking about newsreaders, I see that the GNKSA is still around and now, even in version 2.0!

Via Digg (or Slashdot, or Reddit), I found the browser time-line1, now in SVG (link will work in FF, Opera and Safari, not in IE!). My 2006 timeline needs some updating too, I see.

Earlier this week, NASA open-sourced their Robotics framework layer “Claraty”. This is all C/C++ stuff, in case you’re interested. Additionally, at this day, the official website still 404s.

And talking about programming, earlier I decided to take a look at Flex and then removed it after reading some of the code samples: I applaud Adobe for releasing some stuff to the public but I’m not impressed. I read that a team of Microsoft (Silverlight) developers looked into Adobe’s material too and weren’t impressed either, only because they thought that this programming language needed a good IDE, which it doesn’t (at this stage). Looking at the Flex examples, I see murky deep and dark areas of conflicting specifications. Maybe this is why Adobe decided to release the language under an open-source license: after all, most of their business relies on their (quality) graphics software and not their programming languages.

1 I guess it was Reddit

Safari

So, All browsers together you didn’t hear it here first (MetaFilter, Slashdot and Digg links) and to be honest, it caught me a bit by surprise. I’ve mentioned WebKit here before so, I’m not sure why Apple decided to bring the ‘iTunes experience’ to Windows (quoted from Slashdot).

That means that if you have the room (and memory on your computer), you can finally run 4 different browsers at the same time. There are some slight annoyances in the ‘Safari’ approach: some fonts render ‘too bold’. Reading can be quite a task, particular with websites that use Verdana (for a good example use Safari and open up the MetaFilter website: notice how IE renders that site almost the same). If you look at the screenshot, Opera and Firefox render fonts with a lot less weight, making webpages a lot easier to read, or rather, giving webpages a lot more ‘consistent look’.

On the overall, having another browser for Windows is a good step: first, Safari shows that the K-Developers did some good stuff with their (portable) KHTML component. Secondly, if you’re a web developer, you can finally find out what your site looks like in Safari.

1. Related and discussed before here on xsamplex.
2. Zero day bugs in Safari (old news)