Thursday, 7 January 2010

Confessions of a Fickle Browser User

When I first started working, the internet, as we know it today, was still in its infancy. So was e-mail; GUIs were only research projects, and browsers were people who walked around shop floors without any money in their pockets or bank accounts.

A few years later when I was properly ensconced in the corporate IT world I remember briefly playing with Netscape, but from then on in it's pretty much been Internet Explorer all the way. And on company owned machines it's usually been at least two versions of IE behind the latest one. IE has moved forwards in leaps and bounds since those early days when Microsoft was still in denial about the future of the net, and the last version that I used in anger on the PC, IE7, did just about everything I needed or expected.

Of course, when I bought my first Mac back in 2007 it didn't take long to realise that IE on the Mac had not exactly progressed with the times. Because my entry into the Mac world coincided with the launch of Leopard and Safari 3 it made sense to use Safari from the outset, and I was quite happy for a few months. But something, and I genuinely forget what it was now, made me try out Firefox. Before long, Firefox became my browser of choice.

I love Firefox's extendibility, and before long I had the browser configured exactly how I wanted it. I had toolbars for LinkedIn and Facebook, Xmarks (previously FoxMarks) for bookmarks, Morning Coffee to load a set of default tabs, and all sorts of other goodies. Almost all was hunky dory in the Apple Harvest world. But I started to get annoyed when some of my extensions failed to load every time there was a point update. And then there was the problem I had when my internet connection intermittently started hanging forcing a reboot.

When Safari 4 was released I decided to have another look at it, but it seemed to take forever to load my home page (mine is set to a customised BT:Yahoo home page), so I decided to stick with Firefox, and put up with it's inconveniences.

However, in the last couple of weeks I found out that some of the features that I really like were available to me in Safari. I began to investigate and to my surprise my home page loaded almost instantly. I installed Glims, Inquisitor and PDF Browser plug-ins. With these three additions I'm able to perform all the main tasks that I used to demand of Firefox, but with fewer configuration issues. And some of the super duper add-ins for Firefox that I used to have installed proved to be padding and superfluous.

I don't really need a Facebook or LinkedIn toolbar, Xmarks works fine with Safari, pages load fast and Safari is now my default browser. Until something better comes along!

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