Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Netscape, Firefox, and Opera are free, although the free version of Opera has an advertising banner. Recent security flaws in Explorer have been publicized widely, causing more people to turn to alternative browsers. The alternatives all have tabbed browsing, which enables you to have multiple web pages open at the same time. This is great when reading several blogs and news articles, and referring back to them when writing your own post. Various bloggers have touted Opera or Firefox. Indeed, they have their advantages. Opera runs a little faster; Firefox has a cleaner look, because it has no advertising banner. Still, I prefer Netscape. Why? Because it has an integrated email client. SInce I like to be able to encrypt and/or digitally sign messages, web-based e-mail is not useful for me. Also, Netscape comes with a WYSIWYG HTML editor. This is great for writing blog entries.
To use the Netscape editor to write blog entries, you open the editor by pressing control-4, or by using the Tools menu. Then you write the post, much like using a word processor. It is fairly simple to add photos and tables, use font effects, colors, and so forth. Pressing alt-F7 runs a spell check. Save (often) with control-s. When done, switch to the HTML source view, select everything between the <body> and </body> tags, copy, and paste into your blogging software. If using Blogger, you also have to go to the dashboard, click the Settings Tab, click on Formatting, and set the Convert Line Breaks setting to "No." If you decide to try this, and if you don't know anything about HTML, go to one of the many HTML tutorials on the 'net (1 2 3). It is not necessary to know HTML to use an HTML editor such as Netscape Composer, but it helps.
All the alternative browsers have useful attributes, such as popup blocking, the ability to use mouse gestures, and the ability to add "extensions," little mini-programs that people write to extend the functionality of the browser. Also, they all handle downloads better than Explorer does. Another aspect of the alternative browsers is that they all are more customizable than Explorer.
Back in the days when hard drive space was expensive, and most people routinely had to go through and delete old stuff to make room for new stuff, it was important to pick just one browser. Now, most people have more hard drive space than they know what to do with, so it is feasible to have more than one one your system. If you try one of the others, though, be sure to go to the browser's web site and read up on all the features. I suspect that most people, once they have used one of the alternatives for a while, will have no interest in going back to using Explorer.
(Note: The Rest of the Story/Corpus Callosum has moved. Visit the new site here.)
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Thanks for this article. As I posted on my blog, I'm finally getting the guts to try it!