Thursday, January 06, 2005

Good Radio Morning (another FireFox plug)

It was a good morning for tech news on NPR’s Morning edition today. There were two stories of note. One regarding MacWorld Expo, and the rumor of a new low cost desktop Macintosh; and another about my web browser of choice, FireFox. Both stories are worth the few minutes it would take to listen to them.

Thoughts on FireFox:

As I said in an earlier blog entry, at first I was rather skeptical about switching browsers. Internet Explorer had been my browser of choice since 2001, and I had no intention to leave it. After some careful persuasion from classmates at school, I decided that I should be more open-minded and give it a chance. Here is a short list of features that made the switch an easy one:

1. Tabbed browsing – It is so wonderful to have one browser window up instead of five or ten. It is nice to be able to open a link in a new tab rather than opening it in a new window. This feature really plays to the organization freak in me.
2. Live bookmarks – Rather than having to play with some news reader program in order to keep track of the various blogs that I read, if they use RSS or ATOM with the click of a button I can subscribe to their feed. Each time I open a new browser window, FireFox automatically checks these blogs for updates. It is totally awesome and saves a lot of time.
3. Absolute control over cookies, scripts, cache, you name it.
4. Customizable – if you can code, you can develop for it, if you would rather let someone else do the coding, there are tons of plugins that can be downloaded from the firefox site.
5. It blends the best of ie and mozilla. Need I say more?

All of the good things are really good, and good enough to keep me using FireFox as my browser of choice, however, I have noticed that there are a few “bugs” that are rather annoying that force me to use IE for some things:

1. I haven’t done all of the research that I should, but it seems that some applets and servlets don’t run well in FireFox. There is an application at work that absolutely refuses to run on FireFox.
2. Sometimes its handling of cookies and caching is not totally reliable making web applications that rely on cookies not function as they should. For example, a forum that I participate in never recognizes that I am logged in, when in actuality I am. Another example would be my school’s class registration system. The browser always thinks that my session has expired when I first try to log in, and it is necessary to remove the cookies before I can log in.

Though it has its quirks, I am willing to adopt it as my main browser, and be inconvenienced every now and again. I think that the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences, and browsing the web “securely” gives my heart some peace. I recently moved all of my family over to FireFox as our main browser; I think that for many of them the jury is still out as to whether it is good. Time will tell.

Thoughts on Macintosh:
I think I will save this one for tomorrow.

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